A man holds a cross during “Together 2016” July 16. (CNS photo/Ana Franco-Guzman)
By Ana Franco-Guzman
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Sunscreen, water, a bag, Bible, notebook, money to purchase food and a good singing voice were all on Loren Soto-Barrios’ “what to bring” list for last weekend’s “Together 2016” in Washington.
“Together 2016” was an initiative by Nick Hall, founder of the PULSE movement, who said the underlying message of the event was to “awaken culture to the reality of Jesus.”
“Francis Chan and Hillsong United,” 22-year-old Soto-Barrios told me when asked who she was most excited to see. They were among a number of speakers and recording artists who headlined the gathering, held near the Washington Monument.
She and her friends Michael Herelle, 22, Caitlyn Sass, 24, and Steve Nieves, 24, were four people in a crowd of about 350,000 people at the event. Soto-Barrios talked to me about the experience and what it took to get here for it.
On the Friday before, Herelle, Sass and Soto-Barrios left New Jersey and drove to Delaware to pick up Nieves. They were out of the house Saturday morning at about 7:30 a.m. to drive to Washington.
They then took a Metro subway train from The Catholic University of America stop to arrive at the National Mall by 9 a.m. It was at the Metro that we unexpectedly crossed paths.
“Once at the event, I saw that the line lasted for miles (but) I was not upset,” Soto-Barrios told me. “I had the opposite reaction, I was rejoicing. I could not believe this many people were waiting in line for this event. Everyone was there for Jesus, and it blew my mind that there were that many people there. I thank God for moments like that.”
In line the group of four split up, so that it would be easier to reserve a spot on the lawn. Herelle and Soto-Barrios waited in a security line, carrying the bags for all four. The other two went through an entrance for those without bags.
Soto-Barrios said at that moment she thought of “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World” by Joanna Weaver, saying that “like the man in the book,” Herelle would carry everyone’s “burdens” (bags) and would not be able to keep going. But Herelle told her it “was much easier to do this and that this was not the case.”
Once inside the fence, it was (Read More)
It was with sadness that I learned of the death on Saturday of Fr Michael Morris OP after an illness. For many years he has been a great advocate for beauty in sacred art and the culture, who could talk about anything from traditional Christian iconography to Hollywood movie posters. Many will know of his writing through his monthly art reviews in the Magnificat magazine.
I met him first in 2001 when I turned up at his office in Berkeley, California, looking for help and advice about transforming Catholic culture. I was a complete unkown who had read John Paul II’s Letter to Artists and had set off for America armed with a few poorly formed ideas and plenty of passion, but very little else. He was kind enough to take the time to listen to this odd stranger hammering on his door out of the blue, and offered encouragement and wise advice. He was also very amusing.
We had been in touch ever since and I saw him only 10 days ago. Although obviously suffering, he still just wanted to talk about art and a course he was planning to teach for the DSPT, the Dominican School in Berkeley next year; and to introduce me to an artist friend of his. The program at the GTU in Berkeley, Religion and the Arts, which he devoted so much time to is known internationally.
He will be missed by many.
“Now that you have come this close to your servant, let me bring you a little food, that you may refresh yourselves; and afterward you may go on your way.” — Genesis 18:5
July 17, Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle C. Readings:
1) Genesis 18:1-10a
Psalm 15:2-3, 5
2) Colossians 1:24-28
Gospel: Luke 10:38-42
By Sharon K. Perkins
Catholic News Service
My mother never ceases to amaze me. Any time I come for a visit, even on short notice, she’s got some sort of homemade treat ready in a matter of minutes. Whether it’s a piece of blackberry pie or chicken noodle soup, scratch-made spaghetti sauce or my favorite klobase sandwich, she’s able to produce something out of her freezer or pantry that makes me happy to sit at her kitchen table for a nice long visit.
I’m not the only one. Mom has a large “extended family” that includes parish priests, her kids’ former college roommates, retired army buddies and their wives, or old friends just passing through. And if she’s visiting their home, she never arrives empty-handed. And she makes it look so easy!
I think that Mom simply plans for generosity. As with Abraham and Sarah’s fine flour or tender, choice steer, Mom has already stocked up her supplies, and, even more important, she has the attitude that nothing is too good for guests. Nor are her visitors considered an imposition, for in welcoming them and seeing to their comfort, she welcomes the Lord.
In today’s Gospel, Martha and Mary illustrate both sides of that hospitality coin. Martha honors the tradition of her ancestors Abraham and Sarah by fussing over the preparations, the food, a comfortable environment. Mary attends to the guest in a different way, extending personal welcome and attention. Jesus isn’t unappreciative of Martha’s efforts, but her anxiety and worry are evidence that her focus is off-kilter.
In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, we are asked to reflect anew on the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. At the root of each of them — whether visiting the sick, feeding the hungry, comforting the sorrowful or instructing the ignorant — is an attitude of hospitality, of welcoming our Lord — the guest, as he comes to us in need of mercy and compassion.
This doesn’t just happen. (Read More)
The choice of music at Mass matters to me. It was hearing polyphony and chant done well that contributed to my conversion. It was hearing practically every other style of music in church that contributed to my not becoming a Christian until I did.
I grew up hearing Methodist hymns in church, and today I can’t bear to sing them or any other “traditional” 19th century-style hymn, even if the words are written by Fr Faber. I hate Christmas carols and find them sentimental. I had grown tired of Silent Night and Ding Dong Merrily on High before I was 10 years old, and today always refuse to go caroling in the neighborhood on the grounds that I don’t want to chase any more people away from the Church.
I find the attempts to be musically current in church even more repellent. Whether it’s the Woodstock-throwback-with-added-sugar of the standard pew missalet, candied Cat Stevens presented by a cantor in a faux operatic or broadway-musical style, or the more recent equivalents, imitations of the pop music of the moment to “get the young people in,” it’s all the same to me. If ever there was an award that labels a musical artist as a legend in his own lunchtime, it’s “Christian album of the year.” Attempts at being Christian and cutting edge always seem outdated five minutes after they were composed, and most weren’t that great for the four minutes they were relevant.
Whenever I am in church and expected to sing along to such inventions, I shift uneasily and look down at the ground, hoping nobody notices I’m not joining in. (That’s assuming I can hit the pitch, which is usually too high for most men anyway.) It is an attempt to appeal to young people that feels to me like an imitation of the foolish parent who tries to hard to be liked by his adolescent children by adopting inappropriate teenage fashions; he inevitably misses the mark, and loses self respect and the respect of the younger generation in the process. To my mind, there’s nothing more embarrassing than a grown-up trying to be hip and groovy when the words “hip” and “groovy” haven’t been hip and groovy for a long, long time. I thought that when I was 13-year-old atheist and I still think it today.
And I’m not just talking about the music for the Novus Ordo or the Masses (Read More)
By Junno Arocho Esteves
A Pokemon Go avatar in St. Peter’s Square.
ROME — Pokemon Go, the location-based augmented reality game based on the popular animated cartoon, has swept across the United States and has made it here to Italy.
The most coveted Pokestop in Vatican City, however, is the least accessible one: the window of the papal apartment where Pope Francis delivers his Sunday Angelus address.
Using a mobile phone’s GPS and camera, players can catch and train virtual Pokemon as well as battle with other players at designated areas called Pokegyms.
As players walk around, they can reach designated areas in the maps called Pokestops where they can pick items, such as Pokeballs, unhatched Pokemon eggs, and other goodies.
The window of the papal apartments is one of the many Pokestops in Vatican City.
Given my schedule, I’m not one to indulge in mobile games as often as I’d like, and maybe it’s for the better since I get hooked so easily. But after seeing all the fuss online, I decided to give it try. And yes, I got hooked.
I found myself walking aimlessly through the streets of Rome stopping every so often at a Pokestop or trying to catch a rogue Pokemon for my collection.
A walk from the office to St. Peter’s Square takes no more than 2 minutes. With Pokemon Go, it took me about 5 minutes, often times bumping into tourists because I was staring at my phone.
Looking around the square, almost every tourist had a phone; I was looking for any novice Pokemon masters like myself looking for goodies at one of the many Pokestops in St. Peter’s.
One young tourist stares at her mobile phone in St. Peter’s Square. (CNS photo/ Junno Arocho Esteves)
However, going around, discreetly looking at other people’s phones, I noticed they were either texting, snapping selfies in front of the basilica or recording videos of their children scurrying across the square.
Pokemon Go might bring a lot of people back to church, but not in the way one would expect, particularly because some Pokestops are actually churches. While riding a bus near the Vatican, I passed by the Roman parish of St. Peter the Apostle. And yes, it’s a Pokestop.
Nevertheless, I came to the realization that not only was I fully engrossed in the game, I was also alienating myself.
The Roman parish of St. Peter the Apostle is one of many Pokestops in Rome.
I was (Read More)
Here for the first time is a piece by iconographer, Keri Wiederspahn. She will be doing a series of posts about her faith and her work as an icon painter and influences on both. She is on the faculty of Pontifex University, which will offer courses in the Fall. We haven’t featured France much on the Way of Beauty to date (perhaps its a reflection of my being English, I don’t know), but this certainly helps to redress the balance. Thank you Keri!
Here it is:
Beauty leads the way to inspire wonder and holds the key to mystery and a call to transcendence.
By Keri Wiederspahn
Several decades ago, as an unchurched 15-year old drawn to art and already identifying myself as an aspiring artist, I was blessed with a transformative encounter on a trip to the ancient cliff-side village of Rocamadour in the South of France not far from where my parents and I were spending the year on my father’s sabbatical in the Dordogne Valley.
Medieval discoveries were now expected daily in our lives in this new land, but this pilgrim experience became something altogether different — my first encounter with the infinite beauty and love of God received through a sacred aesthetic experience. A true source of theology was manifest in this place of tangible space, color and sculpted form, celebrating the joy and mystery of salvation while revealing an unexpected door of mercy that initiated my early hunger and thirst for God.
With flights of steps worn smooth from the centuries of pilgrimage by kings, bishops, nobles and common folk, various legends and fact intermingle surrounding Rocamadour through St. Amadour who is said to have built the cliff-side chapel in honor of the Blessed Virgin, attributed to also having carved the simple Black Madonna known for its miraculous happenings.
The sense of the Other is profound in this place, rich with the gift of Divine inspiration.
The carved Black Madonna remains cloistered in its chapel to this day, and it was from within the centuries-old resonance of prayer that Christ somehow became real to me for the first time through this most simple presentation of Christ through his Mother.
It turns out that many conversions happened in this humble chapel — composer Francis Poulenc was one of them, a great talent influenced and mentored by Eric Satie, who after spending extended time in the chapel, dedicated the remainder of (Read More)
Young boy seen in a refugee camp in Libya in 2012. (CNS photo/Reuters)
By Ana Franco-Guzman
Refugees arriving in the United States are resilient people who want to contribute to society, believes Darwensi Clark of the U.S. bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services.
He’s seen it among the refugees he has worked with through the years.
Refugees are in a difficult position, he told Catholic News Service after a recent World Refugee Day program sponsored by MRS. Refugees don’t want to flee their homes and enter into an uncomfortable situation, which no one else would want, said Clark, who is associate director of processing operations for MRS.
For that reason, Americans should work to better understand what’s happening overseas to force people to flee their homeland, Clark said.
A refugee and an asylee shared their stories during the event.
Mussie Hadgu, a refugee from Eritrea who now lives in Arlington, Virginia, said he knows that with hard work anyone can succeed in the U.S.
“It’s hard to be a refugee,” he said. “There are many challenges in coming to a new country.” Mussie fled his beloved country in 2007 and sought refuge in Kenya. He stayed in Kenya for 7 years before resettling in the U.S. with the help of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington.
Yosief Habte is an asylee from Asmara, Eritrea, who shared his story at the event. Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington has helped him find his new jobs, which are working for Metro and, in his free time, doing watercolor and collage paintings.
A veiled Afghan woman waits at U.N.-funded center in Pakistan in 2012. (CNS photo/Reuters)
For the record MRS is the world’s largest nongovernmental resettlement organization. The organization has helped resettle more than 1 million refugees in the U.S. in its 50-year history.
Under definitions of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, a refugee is someone who has been forced to flee their home because of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or participation in a social group.
An asylee is someone who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her homeland or to seek the protection of that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution.
Asylees seek protection once they are in the U.S. while refugees apply for refugee status overseas.
The UNHCR reports there are 19.5 million refugees and 38.2 million internally displaced persons worldwide.
A person must (Read More)
“Who is my neighbor?” — Luke 10:29
July 10, Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle C. Readings:
1) Deuteronomy 30:10-14
Psalm 69:14, 17, 30-31, 33-34, 36-37 or Psalm 19:8-11
2) Colossians 1:15-20
Gospel: Luke 10:25-37
By Jeff Hedglen
Catholic News Service
One difficulty of living the Christian life is that while most of it is simple, it’s often not easy. Love God, love your neighbor — simple concepts, but not always easy to accomplish.
Similar precepts are: serve the poor, sin less, pray daily, read the Bible regularly, and attend and participate fully at Mass on Sunday. There are many others, but you get the idea. All of these are so simple and basic that I hardly need to mention them, but none is easy to bring to fruition.
These tasks are not difficult because, as Moses says in this week’s first reading from Deuteronomy, we don’t have to go up in the sky to complete them or across the ocean to achieve them. No, he says, they are already planted within us; we only have to carry them out. Simple but not easy.
This week’s Gospel is one of the most challenging messages in the whole Bible. In answering the question, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus uses a person all Jews of the day despised. Jews were not to associate with Samaritans, so to use this person as the example of mercy would have seemed quite outlandish.
For modern-day Christians, this example may seem a bit simple, but as soon as you bring it up-to-date, it is not as easy as it sounds. For instance, think of the people or groups you find it hard to like, even people who have totally different viewpoints, morals, faith and country of origin than you do. These are our Samaritans; these are our neighbors.
We all have people in our lives that irk us far past what is holy. It is these people that Jesus says are our neighbors. It is these people we are to love. Pope Francis has trumpeted this message from Jesus that we are to go beyond our comfort zone and love these neighbors. Depending on the situation, this may not even be simple, let alone easy.
Yet Jesus calls us to do it all the same. His exact words are, (Read More)
Here are some photos of a walk I did recently in the hills overlooking the town of Martinez in the San Francisco Bay area of California. As you can see, pasture land that was green and lush a couple of months ago is now brown, and only the oak trees remain verdent, standing proud in the landscape as the send their roots deep into the soil in search of water.
I have been visiting this part of the world for many years now (my brother lives in the area) and when I first visited it was at this time of the year and I found the landscape to dry and dusty to seem beautiful – I was used to the English countryside which is green just about all year round. Somehow just to look at what seems an almost dead landscape made me feel thirsty. However after many visits I have now seen this landscape at other times of the year and I realised that in the winter, which is the rainy season, this area looks as green as England. Interestingly, I found that this knowledge of how it changes through the year changed my appreciation of the landscape even in the dry season. It was as though my memory of how lush it could be was always part of my impression. So it now seemed akin to the pleasure of seeing the yellowing and browning of trees in autumn – when you know that this is just temporary and that as part of cycle of seasons there will be a rebirth later in the year, it no longer seems desolate and inhospitable now.
The town of Martinez itself, incidentally, is on the south shore of the Carquinez Strait in the San Francisco Bay. The area to north of this is inlet contains the Napa Valley, famous for its vinyards. I like the views of the town below, which has an oil refinery and is visited by tankers. If you watch the boat traffic, you can see these tankers and tug boats motoring through the straight. They make a majestic sight.
But before we had the pleasure of the view, we had to put in the work and walk up the hillside firstly through the trees and then up the bare hillside in the sunshine.
This is farmland with public access. There is alwas the risk (Read More)
By Carol Glatz
Screengrab of the videogame character, Frisk, and Pope Francis from Matthew Patrick’s YouTube video “Game Theory: Why I gave the pope Undertale.” Patrick met the pope with other YouTubers in May.
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis got game — an online, role-playing, cult video game, that is.
Appropriately, the game is not a stereotypical virtual world of bloody combat by blasphemous brutes, but the critically acclaimed video game, Undertale, which lets players choose to dialogue with and feel mercy for “monsters” rather than attack and kill them.
U.S. gamer, Matthew Patrick, was one of a dozen YouTubers, who met with the pope in May as part of a world congress sponsored by Scholas Occurrentes. The highly popular vloggers, who have, when tallied together, about 25 million subscribers, were invited to meet and interview the pope.
I just interviewed the POPE! I am literally #blessed@Pontifex pic.twitter.com/S6soqWuPcC
— Matthew Patrick (@MatPatGT) May 29, 2016
Patrick, whose screen name is MatPat, revealed on his “The Game Theorists” YouTube channel July 5 that, during the papal encounter, he gave the pope an activation code to purchase and download Undertale because the popular release “speaks his language.”
“This year is his self-proclaimed Year of Mercy for the Catholic Church, a period celebrating forgiveness and compassion,” Patrick said in his video. “What’s the recurring theme throughout Undertale? Mercy,” he said, not only for the innocent, but even for “the most vile murderers.”
The 29-year-old self-described “information addict” gives an extensive explanation in his 16-minute video of why he chose to give the pope the game instead of, what he parodied as being, more distinctively American gifts like “an over-sized hamburger, a cowboy hat and a bald eagle carrying a machine gun.”
“If I was going to be the representative of any culture it was going to be of this culture, the Internet culture, and more specifically of gamers because our voice has so rarely gotten represented offline,” he said. Whenever the gaming world does make the news, he said, “it’s always, always, in the negative,” portraying gamers as killers or misogynists.
Giving the pope access to an online world that encourages solving problems peacefully was “an important symbolic gesture for all of us gamers,” he said. It was a way to counteract all the negative coverage gamers often get and “educate the world about the good works of gaming.”
The popularity of Undertale (Read More)
By Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY — Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, editor of the journal La Civilta Cattolica, interviewed Cardinal Christoph Schonborn about Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” and reaction to it.
The journal provided Catholic News Service with an English translation of the interview and its website — www.laciviltacattolica.it — was scheduled to post selections in English from the interview at 3 p.m. Rome time today.
Here are two of the questions and answers:
Father Spadaro: Some have spoken of AL as a minor document, a personal opinion of the pope (so to speak) without full magisterial value. What value does this exhortation possess? Is it an act of the magisterium? This seems obvious, but it is good to specify it in these times, in order to prevent some voices from creating confusion among the faithful when they assert that this is not the case …
Cardinal Schonborn: It is obvious that this is an act of the magisterium: It is an apostolic exhortation. It is clear that the pope is exercising here his role of pastor, of master and teacher of the faith, after having benefited from the consultation of the two synods. I have no doubt that it must be said that this is a pontifical document of great quality, an authentic teaching of sacra doctrina, which leads us back to the contemporary relevance of the Word of God.
Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna arriving at a 2014 session of the Synod of Bishops on the family. (CNS/Paul Haring)
I have read it many times, and each time I note the delicacy of its composition and an ever greater quantity of details that contain a rich teaching. There is no lack of passages in the exhortation that affirm their doctrinal value strongly and decisively. This can be recognized from the tone and the content of what is said, when we relate these to the intention of the text — for example, when the pope writes: “I urgently ask …”, “It is no longer possible to say …”, “I have wanted to present to the entire church …”, and so on. AL is an act of the magisterium that makes the teaching of the church present and relevant today. Just as we read the Council of Nicaea in the light of the Council of Constantinople, and Vatican I in the light of Vatican II, so now we must read the previous statements of the (Read More)
The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, which opened in 1993 in Washington has the words of Elie Wiesel carved in stone at its entrance: “For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.”
Catholic high school teacher views an exhibit at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum during a 1998 training program for Catholic teachers. (CNS photo by Bob Roller)
Wiesel, the Holocaust survivor, Nobel Peace Prize recipient and prolific author who died July 2 at the age of 87, was passionate about helping people not only remember atrocities but to take responsibility for them by making sure evil does not get the upper hand again.
He did this not only with his writings — most famously through “Night” — the autobiographical account of his time in concentration camps as a teenager — but also through helping found the Holocaust museum , which he envisioned as a “living memorial” to serve as a warning about the fragility of democracy and the dangers of unchecked hatred.
When the museum opened 23 years ago, Catholic News Service reported:
The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum not only recounts the deaths of millions of victims of World War II, but it presents a lesson for all people, according to Jewish and Catholic leaders.
“It tells a crucial story, summing up the underside of the 20th century,” said Eugene J. Fisher, associate director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.
He called the new museum’s role “extremely important” in “helping all Christians remember what can happen if we’re not extremely vigilant.”
The museum, near all the other museums along the National Mall, deserves to be visited, and perhaps Wiesel’s death is a poignant reminder of that.
I had the chance to tour it before it officially opened and wrote this for CNS:
Once inside the museum, the visitor has stepped into another world. And for the few hours it takes to see the entire exhibit, that world closes in. There are no hallways where one can escape; no opportunity to go back and forth among displays. The museum is designed to make one feel pushed along, almost forced, as were the concentration camp prisoners.
Amid the discomfort, there is also a connection with the persecuted. Visitors are immediately given a computerized identity card of a Holocaust victim who matches their own age and sex. The card includes a short biography which is updated at stations (Read More)
By Barb Fraze
St. Leonard’s Crypt below Wawel Cathedral dates to the 11th century. It holds the tombs of Polish royalty and military heroes. Father Karol Wotyla (St. John Paul II) celebrated his first Mass as a priest in the crypt. The city, once the royal capital of Poland, will host the international World Youth Day in July. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
There’s so much to experience in Krakow and its surroundings that it’s difficult to parse a list of helpful tips and favorites. However, while traveling with Poles around Poland last year, CNS contributor Nancy Wiechec was able to come up with a short list to pass on to World Youth Day pilgrims. Print out or save to your phone for quick reference.
Key Polish words
Dzień dobry (Jeyn dob-ry) Hello or good day, formal
Cześć (Chesht-sh) Hello or goodbye, informal
Spoko (S-poko) Cool, no problem
Dobrze (Dob-sheh) Good or well
Dziękuję (Jen-koo-yeah) Thank you
Magiczny Kraków (Ma-geech-nih Krah-koof) Magical Krakow
Obwarzanki for sale in central Krakow. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Foods to try
Pierogi: These Polish dumplings come filled with savory meats, cheese or seasoned cabbage and mushrooms. There are also fruit-filled varieties. They come boiled, fried or baked.
Kabanosy: Thin, dry smoked pork sausages that are a good on-the-go snack. Think jerky. Krakowski Kredens Tradycja Galicyjska in Krakow sells them and other Polish delicacies.
Obwarzanki: These chewy dough rings, sometimes shaped like a pretzel, are sprinkled with salt, poppy and/or sesame seeds. Get them fresh in the morning from street carts across Krakow. At about 1.5 Polish zloty (40 cents), they are a bargain.
Zapiekanka: A toasted half sandwich roll topped with melted cheese, mushrooms and ketchup was a Communist-era omnipresent street food. It’s made a comeback with better quality and a seemingly infinite variety of toppings.
Zurek: Poles love a good soup. This savory broth of soured rye meal and herbs is often made hearty with fresh Polish sausage, hardboiled eggs and bacon.
Kremówki papieskie: A favorite of St. John Paul II from his hometown of Wadowice, papal cream cake is now a sought-after sweet across the country.
This is an interior view taken in early September of St. Mary’s Basilica in Krakow, Poland. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Main Market Square and St. Mary’s Basilica
Wawel Castle and Cathedral
St. Peter and Paul Church
Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy
Filed under: (Read More)
The methods of the poverty aid industry reflect their prejudices against faith in God, freedom and entrepreneurship – the very things that have created the wealth of the West. The effects of this hypocrisy is catastrophic both culturally and economically for the poor countries of the world.
I have just returned from the Acton Institute annual conference, called Acton University. The Acton Institute exists to promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles.
It is easy to believe that groups that convene to discuss free markets and business are all well-to-do business people talking about how to make lots of money. This couldn’t be further from the truth at Acton. The focus is almost exclusively on how to help the poor and how to promote a society in which all people flourish and all ways. There were many talks on the promotion of a culture of beauty for the good of the souls of all, for example. These are things that are effect rich and poor alike and are vitally important.
What struck me this year is not just that Acton not only offers a solution to poverty and human flourishing around the world; but that it might well offer the only way. This is a solution that trusts in the abilities of all people to solve their own problems if they have the environment in which they can flourish.
The opening address by Senegalese entrepreneur Magatte Wade who was urging people to stop giving money to NGOs and charities that channel fund to the developing world. They are (usually) well intentioned, but their effect on the developing world is to make the problem worse. Magatte was scathing, also about the influence of celebrity philanthropists who parachute into a situation, have the photo shoot with smiling children and then disappear. The effect is damaging to the culture because the paternalism that drives it tends to tell the people themselves that they can’t create wealth themselves and need handouts from the West.
The evidence on the hopelessness of the West in their paternalistic approaches to fighting poverty in the last 50 years is overwhelming. Haiti, for example, has about the lowest standard of living in the world, and yet it has more NGOs (and I’m guessing, more high profile celebrity visits from nearby USA) per head of population than any other country in world.
The (Read More)
By Julie Asher
(CNS photo/Mike Crupi, Catholic Courier)
“The Archivists’ Nook” on the website of The Catholic University of America’s libraries has a great lesson for us all about “Catholic contributions to the national cause.” Most of us may know well that Charles Carroll of Carrollton, Maryland, was the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence — and he was a cousin of Bishop (later Archbishop) John Carroll of Baltimore, who in 1789 became the first Catholic bishop of the United States.
The “Nook” posting highlights many other Catholics who had a role “in the front ranks of freedom’s struggle” it says:
— Two Catholics who signed the U.S. Constitution were Thomas Fitzsimons, an Irish-born Philadelphia merchant, and Bishop Carroll’s older brother, Daniel, who served in the Continental Congress and also signed the Articles of Confederation.
— Others included Stephen Moylan, also an Irish-born Philadelphia merchant; Casimir Pulaski and Tadeusz Kosciuszko of Poland; and the Marquis de Lafayette of France.
These Catholic leaders did all this despite the prejudice that existed against Catholics and the civil and legal restrictions on them.
A story in the CNS archives on Charles Carroll notes that he returned to Maryland, after getting a Jesuit education in Belgium, where his studies on the writings of Thomas Aquinas, Robert Bellarmine and Francisco de Suarez helped shape his political philosophy, and he began lobbying for repeal of the Stamp Act in 1765. But he was prohibited from voting on any issue because he was Catholic.
According to Scott McDermott, who wrote “Charles Carroll of Carrollton: Faithful Revolutionary,” it was ” a profound victory for Catholic Americans” when he was elected to the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, and “the beginning of religious tolerance on this continent.”
Filed under: (Read More)
“Your heart shall rejoice and your bodies flourish like the grass; the Lord’s power shall be known to his servants.” — Isaiah 66:14
July 3, Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle C. Readings:
1) Isaiah 66:10-14c
Psalm 66:1-7, 16, 20
2) Galatians 6:14-18
Gospel: Luke 10:1-12, 17-20 or Luke 10:1-9
By Jean Denton
Catholic News Service
Using Jerusalem as a metaphor in this week’s Scripture, Isaiah presents God as a mother providing her children with comfort, nourishment and nurture, and proclaims that “the Lord’s power shall be known to his servants.”
Confidence in God’s power and care are indeed essential to Jesus’ disciples, we see in today’s Gospel, when he sends them forth to pave his way in “every town and place he intended to visit.”
This passage offers us valuable instruction in the ways and means of evangelizing. Warning his disciples that they will face opposition “as lambs among wolves,” Jesus also tells them to be free of material comforts and rely instead on the hospitality of whatever community they visit.
Stay as long as you are accepted, he says, and respond by ministering to the people there. Further, he directed, pray for others to join the effort.
A present-day disciple I know, Adele, followed this very formula when she and two fellow women religious ventured forth from New Jersey to minister to migrant farmworkers in the American South. Welcomed by a community in Virginia, she stayed for more than 30 years.
In visiting the migrant camps, Adele and her colleagues discovered the workers, Haitian immigrants, were underpaid and living in squalid conditions. When they explained the situation to the pastor of the nearby church, he brought the men to live in his rectory temporarily while parishioners helped them find stable jobs in town.
The parish lent additional support while the men transitioned to independent housing and also gave the nuns part-time staff positions, which covered their living expenses.
Over the years, Adele’s ministry increased. She prayed for more laborers, and the harvest has indeed been abundant.
As the Haitians and the community embraced each other, local parishioners became interested in the families they’d left behind and in the country whose dire conditions had forced them to flee. A new mission to serve the impoverished people of Haiti was born and spread throughout the (Read More)
(CNS photo/courtesy U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops)
WASHINGTON (CNS) – The Center of Concern has a beautiful blog called Integral Voices dedicated to raising awareness of social justice and environmental issues.
Inspired by Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si’,” the center hopes to use the blog to bring experts, leaders, and readers together to discuss a huge range of environmental, political, social, and economic concerns.
“Integral Voices will introduce our readers to the sophisticated and nuanced observations of leaders with the range of experience and wisdom to inspire us to think differently and to act differently, to imagine a globalization of hope,” said Dr. Lester Meyers, the president of Center of Concern.
Writers Franciscan Sister Ilia Delio and John Friedman, who is on the center’s board of directors, published the two inaugural blog posts about the pope’s encyclical and the unseen consequences of well-meaning environmental activism.
Sister Ilia has written 17th books and lectures concerning Christianity and evolution, and currently holds the Josephine C. Connelly Endowed Chair in Theology at Villanova University.
Friedman is an expert of communications and sustainability, has managed both of these offices for several businesses, and hosts Sound Living on MusicPlanetRadio.com, an online radio station featuring a charming combination of rock music and tips for living a more environmentally friendly life.
Other writers for Integral Voices include Jesuit Father John P. Langan and Mercy Sister Mary Alice Synkewecz.
Father Langan is the chair of the board of directors of the Center of Concern and a professor of Catholic social thought at Jesuit-run Georgetown University.
Sister Mary Alice is the director of the Collaborative Center for Justice. These writers were chosen by the Center of Concern for their knowledge and expertise on the wide variety of subjects that Integral Voices hopes to discuss.
Integral Voices, which was launched June 20, will be updated on a semi-monthly basis.
Filed under: (Read More)
The plight of this country has little to with drop in oil prices and more to do with chronic economic mismanagement by a corrupt socialist government.
If ever a country provides a case of the evils, and I mean evils, of socialism it is Venezuela. A mere 30 years after the collapse of Soviet Russian we see centralized government actions done in the name of the people which have lead to the suffering of millions.There are food shortages, violence, unrest, and roaming government inspired vigilantes terrorizing the population into submission.
And, what, you might ask has this got to do with a blog called the Way of Beauty? The answer is that it was first the decline in the culture of faith that allowed the socialists to gain power in the first place. Venezuela shows that beauty and faith are things that matter for these are the values that bind a society together stably and for the greater flourishing of all people. I will come to this later in this article.
What was once a flourishing democracy collapsed into poverty and anarchy within 15 years because the introduction of socialist policies. Yet this is a story that is barely covered in the news and the reason is that it doesn’t correspond to the narrative of those who run the media outlets. If Venezuela gets a mention at all in the large media outlets, for example on the BBC website, then the country’s problems are attributed to the drop in oil prices. This is a complete misrepresentation and it is a terrible glossing over of the real cause of the problems, which were present before the oil price dropped. They can be attributed to what can only be described as brain-dead economic policies that began with the dictator Chavez and which his successor Maduro only made worse. Guided by Cuban advisors, they have succeeded in bring the country to its knees faster even than Cuba managed it themselves and starting from a position of much higher prosperity. Chavez, was always viewed positively by the media in Britain and it seems that they can’t bring themselves to admit now how wrong they were.
I was reminded of this recently when I attended the Action Institute annual conference, Acton University, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The mission of the Acton Institute is to promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained (Read More)
Thanks to Gina Switzer (an artist whose decorated Easter candles have been featured on the NLM to great interest) for drawing my attention to this write-up in the Orthodox Arts Journal of an exhibition that took place in Moscow earlier this year, a presentation of contemporary Russian icon painters.
What is interesting is the variety of styles on dsiplay that nevertheless all sit within bounds of what could legitimately be considered a holy icon. Many incorporate stylistic features that might not have been seen in the icons of Rublev in the 15th century. I would characterize what they are doing in the following way: the artist may be breaking past rules, but they never contravene the timeless principles that define the tradition. In the way I am using these words, a “rule” is precise and unbending, the particular application of a “principle” suited to a particular time and place. For example, a rule would be “only use gold for the background in an icon,” which is what I was told when I first started to learn iconography. The underlying principle, on the other hand, is flexible, and is applied in different ways according the needs of the time and place. The principle behind the use of gold for backgrounds is that the background must seem flat and not create the illusion of space, in order to suggest the heavenly realm which is outside time and space. If you look at such icons, you see a variety of background colors and even geometric patterned art, something I was told in my first icon classes should never be seen in an icon! However, they can all be used to suggest flatness, and therefore work well in conforming to the underlying principle.
Similarly, when I first learned icon painting I was told that I had to start with a dark background, and then build the form by putting successive layers of lighter toned paint on top; there was even a theological argument used to justify this. Then it was discovered that ancient iconographers used a method whereby a monochrome underpainting was laid down first, and then both light and dark transparent layers washes of paint were put over it. Because the end result – what the final icon actually looks like – was the most important principle, my icon-painting teacher immediately adopted this quicker and easier method of building form.
This flexibility is the (Read More)
How to Be a Conservative by Roger Scruton and the cultural battle for the West.
If you are like me and fed up of all the news articles and Facebook posts telling you that your support for Brexit reveals you as racist, jingoistic, selfish, economically illiterate, small minded or just plain stupid, then I have the antidote for you: Roger Scruton’s How to Be a Conservative.
In this small book he offers a brilliantly thought out practical philosophy of moral and compassionate patriotism, that cares deeply about the liberty and floursihing of poor and the rich alike, and sees a culture of beauty as absolutely necessary to transmit and sustain the core principles and values that bind the nation together (and frankly, make life worth living). It is a religion neutral, natural-law case for a just society that is, as far as I can tell, consistent with Catholic social teaching. Scruton is and Englishman and his discussion is mostly in reference to the English situation; however, he admires and visits the US regularly as well and at various points he adapts what he is saying to the American situation.
His is a philosophical argument, that is one that is argued rationally from the starting point of observations how people are. He tells us first that his conserative instincts came in part from his father, whom he observed growing up in High Wickham in southern post-War England. Jack Scrution, we are told, was a committed socialist who sought the redistribution of wealth, but, as Scruton junior pointed out, ‘we are all conservative about the things we know about’. And what his dad knew about and loved was local history, and especially the beautiful architecture and the area around High Wickham in Buckinghamshire. This love of the local heritage compelled him to campaign for the preservation these beautiful signs and symbols of traditional English culture and way of life.
Now in his seventies (and made a Knight in the Queen’s 90th birthday honours list!) Sir Roger Scruton still follows his fathers instincts in this regard even though he never shared his political views. He has had a long academic career which began as an undergraduate at Cambridge, but which steadily saw him become an independent academic as it was obvious that he had no career in the faculties of the universities of England, dominated as they are by a left wing and (Read More)