“Unless You Drink the Blood of the Son of Man…”

September 30, 2011

In a continued spirit of fraternal dialogue, I’d like to recommend to you all a really great chapter by Raniero Cantalamessa, the papal household preacher, on the reception of communion under both species.  It pretty much summarizes my thoughts on the matter, and I believe it is well worth the read of everyone.

WD’s WhyTunes, Vol. 4: Gillian Welch

September 29, 2011

Photo by David Noah on flickr

Gillian Welch is one of the great musicians of our time. It is not because she is a technical virtuoso, or because she has great vocal range. It is because more than anyone else she taps into the great aching heart of American music. Read the rest of this entry »

Faith After High School, Part II

September 29, 2011

Here are five more responses.  I’ll post the questions again:

1.  Where do you go to college? What year are you?

2.  Please describe your current faith life (regular mass, daily prayer, involvement in clubs, etc. or lack thereof)

3.  Did Jesuit prepare you well for a life of faith in college? 

4.  Since leaving Jesuit, have you become more or less committed to your faith? 

5.  Since leaving Jesuit, have you become more or less adult and mature in your faith? 

6.  What could Jesuit do better to form you in the Catholic Faith?


1. Texas Christian University. Freshman

2. My current faith life involves going to mass every Sunday. I miss one here or there but I try my best to keep that obligation very steady.

3. Jesuit did a great job but I feel as though once you are on your own, it is very hard to maintain a life of faith unless you are fully committed. I know I have tried to maintain my faith because I realize it is very important, but I do forget occasionally. Read the rest of this entry »

When should we confirm?

September 29, 2011

There’s an old joke about a newly ordained priest whose pastor gives him the task of ending a bat infestation plaguing the church.  The poor young priest tries everything—poison, traps, a call to pest control—but the bats refuse to give up their home among the church’s rafters.  In desperation, the young priest returns to the wise old pastor and says, “Father, I’ve tried everything, but the bats won’t leave the church.”

The old priest smiles, and says, “Oh, Father, the solution is much simpler than you think:  just confirm them!  Then you’ll never see them again.”

For those like myself, who have worked in several different confirmation programs over the years, the joke is more uncomfortable than funny because the proverbial grain of truth it contains is the size of a boulder.  Too often confirmation is treated like a sort of graduation from the Church—an attitude for which, I might add, parents often bear more guilt than teenagers.

While the question of when in one’s life the sacrament of confirmation should be celebrated is not the sort of issue likely to make it into the New York Times, it is theologically more intriguing than the hot-button attention-grabbers.  Fargo’s Bishop Samuel Aquila this summer offered a strong case for changing the order in which the sacraments of initiation are normally conferred.

Read the rest of this entry »

Young Adults and Faith After High School

September 27, 2011

I — or rather some former students and friends of mine — are going to offer a series of posts on how they are experiencing their faith life in college after Catholic school — in this case, Jesuit High School in New Orleans.  Since I taught several Senior theology classes, I have been able to keep in touch with many of these excellent men, and I would like you to listen to them as we all reflect on the future Church.  According to recent polls, after the sexual abuse crisis and the shortage of priests, the lack of participation of our youth ranks third on the list of greatest concerns of the lay faithful. So I think we should listen to what they have to say.

I sent out the following list of questions:

1.  Where do you go to college? What year are you?

2.  Please describe your current faith life (regular mass, daily prayer, involvement in clubs, etc. or lack thereof)

3.  Did Jesuit prepare you well for a life of faith in college? 

4.  Since leaving Jesuit High School, have you become more or less committed to your faith? 

5.  Since leaving Jesuit, have you become more or less adult and mature in your faith? 

6.  What could Jesuit High School do better to form you in the Catholic Faith?

So far, well over thirty have responded and the number keeps climbing.  I could have asked better questions; I sent out the survey on a whim.  But be that as it may, they have offered some wonderful answers, so please listen.  You may respond, and if you want to respond to a particular young man, go ahead and post and I will alert him to your post. All posts will be anonymous.

I will post 4 at a time.  Enjoy as you read, and again, I (and they) very much welcome your comments.


1.  Sophomore at Auburn University

2.  I attend Sunday Mass as often as possible and am a part of the Catholic group on campus, however I do not participate too much in that.  I have been involved in multiple service projects on campus as well. Read the rest of this entry »

Elijah the Prophet, Jesus the Lord

September 27, 2011

Today’s Gospel reading happens to correspond to a presentation that I recently made in one of my classes on Luke’s use of Elijah imagery in his Gospel.  Luke’s use of Elijah is complex.  He does not make a simply one-to-one typological correspondence, but rather seems as concerned to contrast Jesus and Elijah as compare them.  Luke contrasts Elijah and Jesus not to criticize Elijah, but rather to show that Jesus is something more than a prophet.  Jesus is the Lord, and a Messiah who will bring salvation to all people, not through violence but through the cross.

Jesus explicitly invokes Elijah (and Elisha) in Luke 4:16-30. Here, he reverses the people’s expectations that the Messiah would be a warrior king who would bring God’s blessings on Israel and his wrath on her enemies.  Jesus first reads a messianic passage from Isaiah about the blessings the Messiah will bring, and says that this passage is fulfilled in their hearing.  This accords with people’s hopes and expectations.  But then, he invokes Elijah and Elisha who gave God’s blessings to Gentiles, to say that God’s blessings will be extended outside of Israel.  This contradicts the people’s hopes and expectations about membership in the Kingdom of God, and provokes their wrath.

Again in Luke 7:11-17, the raising of the son of the widow of Nain, there are allusions to Elijah raising the son of the widow who fed him during the famine (1 Kings 17:17-24).  Here, though, there are notable discontinuities.  Elijah uses almost magical efforts to raise the boy–laying upon him and three times breathing upon him (according to the Greek Old Testament which Luke would have used), completed by a powerful plea to the Lord (kyrios in the Greek Old Testament) to raise the boy.  By contrast, Jesus simply commands the boy and he is raised.  Elijah must beg the Lord for the miracle, whereas Jesus simply commands.  Significantly, Luke calls Jesus only “kyrios” in this passage.  Elijah must call on the Lord, Jesus is the Lord. Read the rest of this entry »

The Chalice and Eucharistic Faith

September 26, 2011

Nathan said some important things about Bishop Olmsted’s recent decision in his post on Liturgical Minimalism in Phoenix.  I’ve got some different thoughts that I share here.

Even in this section of the GIRM dealing with “Communion Under Both Kinds” (281-287), there is much anxiety for the proper catechesis of the people about Eucharistic doctrine.

Rightly so, for the expansion of communion under both species was a stunning capitulation, in liturgical practice if not in theology, to Protestant arguments in favor of communion in both species.  The Catholic Church vigorously opposed these arguments for over 500 years, since the practice was condemned by the ecumenical Council of Constance in 1415 in response to the Utraquist controversy prompted by John Wyclif and John Hus.  Martin Luther listed the denial of both species to the faithful as one of three “captivities” of the sacrament of the Eucharist, along with the doctrine of transubstantiation and the sacrifical understanding of the Mass (James T. O’Connor, The Hidden Manna: A Theology of the Eucharist, 2nd ed., Ignatius Press, 2005, 130-135).

The GIRM is concerned above all that the faithful be properly instructed on the lynchpin of the Catholic response as formulated at the Council of Trent, namely that:

 “Christ, whole and entire, and the true Sacrament, is received even under only one species, and consequently that as far as the effects are concerned, those who receive under only one species are not deprived of any of the grace that is necessary for salvation”  (282). Read the rest of this entry »