Saturday, September 22, 2012

My new home

I am re-launching my blog at http://www.catholiccrossreference.com/blog/.

I will not delete content from this blog, and I do not yet have plans for copying posts from here to there.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Developments...

I have a bunch of Catholic study tools online at catholiccrossreference.com, most notably a new version of the Catechism search engine, but also a Church Fathers search engine, a Summa Theologiae search engine, and a beta version of a new online approach to reading and studying the Bible.  Check them out!

I'm also planning on re-starting my blogging at that new web site.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Church and Social Media Today

Here is my recommended reading list:

Catholic New Media Conference - Day 1

I'm in Arlington, TX through Saturday morning for the Catholic New Media Conference.  It's being held in the same place and at the same time as the Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show and the Catholic Writers' Guild meet-up, at the Arlington Convention Center.

I arrived Tuesday night, and the CNMC began Wednesday.  There were two tracks:  the standard track and the developers' track.  I attended the developers' track, which was focused on apps, APIs, and collaboration.  I have recently put together an API (CatechismAPI) for searching and presenting the Catechism of the Catholic Church and have a web site that uses it very simply to let people search the Catechism how (I think) people really need to search it.

The first session was on seven strategies for building a good web site for your organization, presented by Josh of eCatholic.  The second session was an expo of Catholic apps, programs, and APIs.  There were presentations on the Catholic Diocese App, Logos, Divine Office, CatechismAPI (my work), and Flocknote.

I received great feedback and a very positive response to my work.  More about that in another post.

I met Matthew Warner, Jeff Geerling, and Brandon Vogt, who I knew through Twitter.  I can't say I put a face to a name, since we've all got pictures of our heads on Twitter.  It was nice to meet them in the flesh; it was very Catholic, very incarnational.  I also met other Twitter friends: Sr. Anne (the Nun Blogger), Jeffrey Ketterer, and Craig Berry.  And I began to network with people who do app development and could help make the CatechismAPI come alive on the mobile platform.

After lunch I stopped by the Our Sunday Visitor booth to get a copy of Brandon Vogt's book The Church and the New Media, signed by the author of course.  Then I attended a session on the importance of standards in app and API development.

Next I did a book signing at the Catholic Writers' Guild booth at the CMN Trade Show.  I also spoke with a few book distributors to see if there was any interest in my books.  After that I went to the developers' session on collaboration.

I had dinner with Matthew, Jeff, Jeff, Dane Falkner (of the Divine Office app), Kevin Knight (of NewAdvent.org), and Ian Rutherford (of Aquinas and More Books), and a few others; we ate across the street from the hotel and conference center, at El Fenix.

After dinner I listened in on Jeff Cavins' talk/pitch about Walking Toward Eternity, his new series from Ascension Press.  That was followed by a screening of Restless Heart: The Confessions of Augustine, a feature-film-length non-animated dramatization of the life of St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo.  It was really quite good.

That was a full day.  Today there's a single track... but I'll post about it later.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Imitating Jesus

(This post is the fruit of a brief Twitter conversation I had yesterday with Rev. Bosco Peters of liturgy.co.nz, who has blogged about it as well.)

Sometime around March of 2010, I spoke with a group of students at Princeton University's Aquinas Institute (their Catholic chaplaincy) about the Mass and the coming new translation of the Roman Missal.  My overall theme was about how our participation in the liturgy should direct our actions outside the liturgy.  I explained how during the Mass there are moments of reception:  during the Penitential Act, we receive God's mercy; during the liturgy of the Word, we receive God's Word; during the Rite of Peace, we receive God's peace; during the Communion Rite, we receive God's very Self in the Eucharist; and in the Concluding Rites, we receive God's blessing.  These five gifts (graces) — God's mercy, word, peace, self, and blessing — are just what we need to get on with the rest of our day (and week).  We receive these graces not for ourselves only, but also for others, for everyone we come in contact with, either in person or in prayer.

The Concluding Rites of the Mass present liturgically Christ's sending His disciples out into the world shortly before His Ascension.  We receive a blessing and are sent forth, uniting the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20 with the Great Blessing of Luke 24:50-51.  The link between the dismissal and the Great Commission may not be immediately evident, despite their etymological link: dismissal, commission, both from the Latin mittere (to send), missio (mission, sending).  But I expect that for most Christians, etymology is the last thing on their minds during their liturgical worship... especially at the very end of the liturgy!  So it falls to liturgical catechists (as I imagine myself to be) to point these things out.

So what does this have to do with "imitating Jesus", as I've titled this blog post?  Well, to make my point at this same meeting with Princeton students, I asked "Why are we dismissed from the Mass?"  That is, to what end are we sent forth from the church?  It's not so that we can get home in time to watch the football game.  It's not because we've worn out our welcome in God's house.  It's not because the Mass has been dragging on too long... although hearing "The Mass is ended" may elicit more genuine "Thanks be to God!"s than we think.  But no, we are dismissed from the liturgy for a particular reason, which the third edition of the Roman Missal attempts to make clear in its new formulae for dismissal.  As Pope Benedict pointed out in Sacramentum Caritatis, the dismissal of the liturgy is a missionary sending-forth.  But to what end?

The end is to imitate Jesus.  I came to this conclusion when I noticed a pattern of speech in the Gospel of John.  In the Gospels, Jesus often makes remarks about "as that..., so this..."  Examples from Matthew and Luke are the signs of Jonah (Mt 12:40; Lk 11:30), of lightning (Mt 24:27; Lk 17:24), and of Noah (Mt 24:37; Lk 17:26).  This pattern of speech is particularly pronounce in John's Gospel, where the comparisons are less about events than they are about persons.  On five occasions, Christ spoke about how, just as the Father does something, so too the Son does it:
  • For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life,
    so also the Son gives life to whom he will. (Jn 5:21)
  • For as the Father has life in himself,
    so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. (Jn 5:26)
  • As the Father has loved me,
    so have I loved you; abide in my love. (Jn 15:9)
  • As thou didst send me into the world,
    so I have sent them into the world. (Jn 17:18)
  • As the Father has sent me,
    even so I send you. (Jn 20:21)
This is simply the principle of John 5:19 put into action: "The Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever he does, that the Son does likewise."  As the Father gives life to the dead, so too does the Son; as the Father has life in Himself, so too does the Son; as the Father loves the Son, so too does the Son love us; and as the Father sends the Son, so too does the Son send... us.

That last one is the key:  Jesus sent His disciples into the world just as the Father sent Jesus into the world.  Jesus is not speaking simply of the similarity between two people who send others out; Jesus is saying that as the Father sent Him, so He sends His disciples.  The purpose, the reason, the mission (missio, sending) is the same; from paragraph 858 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
Jesus is the Father's Emissary. From the beginning of his ministry, he "called to him those whom he desired; . ... And he appointed twelve, whom also he named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to preach." From then on, they would also be his "emissaries" (Greek apostoloi). In them, Christ continues his own mission: "As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." The apostles' ministry is the continuation of his mission; Jesus said to the Twelve: "he who receives you receives me."
Our imitation of Christ requires knowledge of why the Father sent the Son.  John's Gospel is the Gospel of Siloam, "the sent" (Jn 9:7), and a whole Bible study could be centered upon the theology of "sending" in John's Gospel.  The first answer John's Gospel gives to the question of why the Father sent the Son is "that the world might be saved through him" (Jn 3:17), so that as the serpent in the desert was lifted up, so too the Son will be lifted up, to draw all to Himself. (Jn 3:14; 8:28; 12:32)  While we cannot claim to be Christ, the Savior of the world, we are anointed ("christed") to share in Christ's threefold mission as priest, prophet, and king, and so our mission is the same as His: if not to bring salvation to the world, then to bring the world to its salvation, to its Savior.

There is another set of verses in John's Gospel with the "as-so" pattern, but instead of "as the Father... so the Son," these verses are "as the Father (or: as I)... so you."
  • As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father,
    so he who eats me will live because of me. (Jn 6:57)
  • Even as I have loved you,
    that you also love one another. (Jn 13:34)
  • Even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee,
    that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. (Jn 17:21)
These verses teach us how to imitate Christ:
  • as He lives because of the One Who sent Him,
    so we are to live by the One Who sends us;
  • as the Father loves Him, and as He loves us,
    so we are to love one another;
  • and as the Father and the Son are in each other,
    so we are to be in God (and God in us!).
This is why we are dismissed from the liturgy: to live by the One Who sends us, to love one another (even those not yet within the fold) as He loves us, and to participate in His divine life as He Himself lives it.  And this is all so that the world may believe that the Father sent His Son, and thus believe in the Son, who came for the salvation of the world.  And in this way, we are carrying out the same mission as Christ; in this way, we are sent that the world may be saved.

This is imitating Jesus.  This, not to take anything away from Thomas à Kempis, is imitation of Christ.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

As... so...

For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Mt 12:40)

For as Jonah became a sign to the men of Nineveh, so will the Son of man be to this generation. (Lk 11:30)

Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. (Mt 13:40)

For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of man. (Mt 24:27)

For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of man be in his day. (Lk 17:24)

As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man. (Mt 24:37)

As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of man. (Lk 17:26)

And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them. (Lk 6:31)

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up. (Jn 3:14)

For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. (Jn 5:21)

For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. (Jn 5:26)

As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. (Jn 6:57)

Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, `Where I am going you cannot come.' (Jn 13:33)

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. (Jn 13:34)

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love. (Jn 15:9)

As thou didst send me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. (Jn 17:18)

Even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. (Jn 17:21)

Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." (Jn 20:21)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Where are all these enormous circles?

The following quote from a poem by Edwin Markham is often cited by persons or groups who perceive themselves to be marginalized or excluded from the Catholic Church for one reason or another:

He drew a circle that shut me out —
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in.


I do not wish to question the perceptions of these persons or groups; the marginalization or exclusion they feel may indeed be very real.  What I wonder about, though, is whether, in quoting this part of Markham's poem, they actually intend to "draw a circle" that takes in the very person or group they feel is excluding them.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Perfectae Caritatis - Vatican II on consecrated religious life

(The material below comes from a post originally written three years ago.  I'm posting this again now, in April 2012, because of the news surrounding the LCWR in the United States.)

Perfectae Caritatis (the decree on the renewal of religious life), among others from Vatican II, could really have benefited from headings. It's not much to ask for. I mean, I finally caught on that the first couple words of a "paragraph" (really, a group of paragraphs with a single number) indicated the content matter for that numbered paragraph, but the organization of the document didn't jump out at me at first. For those of you reading along at home (and you are reading the documents of Vatican II, aren't you?), here's the breakdown of Perfectae Caritatis:
  1. Introduction (1)
  2. Principles of Renewal (2-6)
    1. Five General Principles of Renewal
    2. Call to Renewal
    3. Authority in Carrying Out the Renewal
    4. Dedication to Evangelical Counsels and Contemplation
    5. Sources of Renewal
  3. Types of Religious Life (7-11)
    1. Contemplative
    2. Apostolates (Active Communities)
    3. Monastic
    4. Lay Religious
    5. Secular
  4. Evangelical Counsels (12-14)
    1. Chastity
    2. Poverty
    3. Obedience
  5. Religious Lifestyle (15-18)
    1. Communal Living
    2. Papal Cloister
    3. Habits
    4. Education and Formation
  6. Lifecycle, Work, and Governance (19-24)
    1. Founding New Communities
    2. Community Identity (Ministry and Mission)
    3. Discontinuing a Community
    4. Combining Similar Communities
    5. Conferences or Councils of Major Superiors
    6. Fostering Vocations
  7. Conclusion (25)
I hope that's helpful for you, for when you read the documents of Vatican II.