Blog Template Theology of the Body: April 2007

Monday, April 30, 2007

Where can you get great icons?

I am looking for a fabulous icon of the Harrowing of Hell for a gift to a friend; any ideas?

While shopping around on line, I did find this site, which looks promising.

Remember, icons are written, not drawn or painted. More on our theology of Christian icons here.

It was Erastus!

... who postulated that sneaky Protestant debaucle about the state being supreme over the Church. This seriously misled man was a Swiss theologian best known for a posthumously published work in which he argued that the sins of Christians should be punished by the state, and not by the Church withholding the sacraments. In short, he (and later his pal Grotius, the main exponent of "Erastianism") held that the state is supreme in and over ecclesial matters. This stuff was rejected by the good folks who compiled the Westminster Confession, but somehow, it seems to have leaked into a lot of contemporary Protestant thought.

I go nuts over these issues of political theology; I only wish that I had known the above when I wrote this...

Thus is the faith confessed

"There is in that city a magnificent church, dedicated to St. Thomas the Apostle, wherein, on account of the sanctity of the place, religious assemblies are continually held. The Emperor Valens wished to inspect this edifice; when, having learned (of) all who usually congregated there, he is said to have struck the prefect with his own hand, because he had neglected to expel them thence. The prefect, to prevent the slaughter of so great a number of persons, privately warned them against resorting thither. But his admonitions and menaces were alike unheeded; for on the following day they all crowded to the church.

When the prefect was going towards it with a large military force, a poor woman, leading her own little child by the hand, hurried hastily by on her way to the church, breaking through the ranks of the soldiery. The prefect, irritated at this, ordered her to be brought to him, and thus addressed her: 'Wretched woman, whither are you running in so disorderly a manner?' She replied, 'To the same place that others are hastening.' 'Have you not heard,' said he, 'that the prefect is about to put to death all that shall be found there?' 'Yes,' said the woman, 'and therefore I hasten, that I may be found there."And whither are you dragging that little child?' said the prefect. The woman answered, 'That he also may be vouchsafed the honour of martyrdom.'

The prefect went back and informed the emperor that all were ready to die in behalf of their own faith; and added that it would be preposterous to destroy so many persons at one time, and thus succeeded in restraining the emperor's wrath. Thus was the Christian faith confessed by the whole city of Edessa."

Socr. iv. 18, Sozom. vi. 18. Quoted Newman, On Consulting the Faithful

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Go and sin some more

-A Gay Mass in San Francisco, instigated by something called "The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence" and some renegade Jesuit. This is one of those rare instances where the most evil kind of decadence seems to have gotten into the strongholds of the RC itself.

Is there a letter writing campaign or something going on against this? If any of you readers are interested in putting together something addressed to the relevant bishop, post your thoughts in the comments. I will gladly mail them.

Saint Monica, Mother of Augustine, AD 387

One of those maternal and spousal saints who taught her child to pray really well; who then prayed for her child faithfully throughout his variegated life of bumping into Love, and ultimately was graced to participate with him in a legendary vision of the glory of God.

She was a faithful wife in an unhappy marriage, but she was able to exercise a veritable apostolate amongst the wives and mothers of her hometown. She also pursued her wayward son Augustine from city to city until he was baptized by Ambrose, and found his rest in "Him who was higher than his higest and more inward than his inmost self." (Augustine, Confessions III)

As the patron saint of married women and of wayward children lost to addictions, Monica is invoked today especially by the members of an international archconfraternity under her patronage, whose object is the mutual prayer for sons and husbands who have gone astray.

Omnipotent God, you perseveringly pursue your wayward sons and daughters not with wild threats, but with their parents' prayerful cries to heaven. May all mothers in our day learn to draw their children to God. Teach them how to remain close to their children, even their prodigal sons and daughters who have sadly gone astray. Amen.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

"Inter-religious dialogue"?

A few of the contributors (if they are doing what they are supposed to be doing for class) are reading in the area of inter-religious dialogue this weekend. This has long been a touchy subject. What does it mean, precisely, to enter into inter-religious dialogue? What are the motives? What are the goals? And what does the process look like?

For my part, I read James L. Fredericks' Buddhists and Christians: Through Comparative Theology to Solidarity. He argues that the pursuit of an adequate 'theology of religions' will never be adequate or even successful, because such pursuits always tend to distort particular traditions, and conflate the significant differences between them. The pursuit of a theology of religions is thus a construction of a general meta-theory, which covers all religions, and thus ends up describing none. Instead, he argues for what he calls "comparative theology," which explicitly maintains one's own fidelity to a particular tradition, while at the same time opening oneself up to that which is good and true in other religious traditions. And although he does not give much in the way of specifics when it comes to what precisely such 'genuine dialogue' would/should look like, I believe he is right to suggest that abandoning one's own doctrinal background and beliefs in the interests of "tolerance" is to abandon true dialogue before it has had a chance to begin. That is, if, in the interests of "openness," we jettison our fidelity to our own particular traditions, we are not paving the way for true conversation, but rather, making it ultimately impossible, or at least completely pointless. This is because implicit in my own abandonment, would be the assumption that no one can come to conversation without a similar move, which means that no one can make any claims at all.

So, is this accurate? And what exactly does/should "dialogue" look like?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Our belief: never a dull moment

"Only orthodoxy is really exciting because only orthodoxy addresses both the actual state of our souls and of the conditions of our existence. Heresy tells us we're okay as we are, while orthodoxy is a challenge to turn from sin and through faith, to live in Christ. People respond to this, sometimes negatively, somtimes positively, because a response is demanded. You cannot be passive about orthodoxy, but you can only be passive about heresy. Heresy dilutes faith to the point where belief and disbelief amount to the same thing. Which is precisely what happens in DVC. Once it is asserted that Christ was only a man, why bother?"


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Ecumenical B:

A warm pat on the back for Protestantism... from Rome.

"Nor should we forget that anything wrought by the grace of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of our separated brethren can be a help to our own edification. Whatever is truly Christian is never contrary to what genuinely belongs to the faith; indeed, it can always bring a deeper realization of the mystery of Christ and the Church:

...A love and reverence of Sacred Scripture which might be described as devotion, leads our brethren to a constant meditative study of the sacred text. For the Gospel "is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith, to the Jew first and then to the Greek."(39)

While invoking the Holy Spirit, they seek in these very Scriptures God as it were speaking to them in Christ, Whom the prophets foretold, Who is the Word of God made flesh for us. They contemplate in the Scriptures the life of Christ and what the Divine Master taught and did for our salvation, especially the mysteries of His death and resurrection.

...The daily Christian life of these brethren is nourished by their faith in Christ and strengthened by the grace of Baptism and by hearing the word of God. This shows itself in their private prayer, their meditation on the Bible, in their Christian family life, and in the worship of a community gathered together to praise God. Moreover, their form of worship sometimes displays notable features of the liturgy which they shared with us of old.

Their faith in Christ bears fruit in praise and thanksgiving for the blessings received from the hands of God. Among them, too, is a strong sense of justice and a true charity toward their neighbor. This active faith has been responsible for many organizations for the relief of spiritual and material distress, the furtherance of the education of youth, the improvement of the social conditions of life, and the promotion of peace throughout the world."

- Decree on Ecumenism

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Ecumenical A:

Rome speaks of herself:

And what does the Catholic Church say about itself? The Second Vatican Council very deliberately and after much debate said that the church of Jesus Christ subsists in the Catholic Church in a singular way, in a way that is not true of others, except, as we shall see, with respect to the Orthodox. It did not say, “The church of Jesus Christ is the Catholic Church” or, obversely, that “the Catholic Church is the church of Jesus Christ” but that the church of Jesus Christ subsists in the Catholic Church. Do you want to know where the church of Jesus Christ, as Christ intended it, apostolically ordered, and so understood from the beginning, from the first and second and third centuries, from the very constituting self-defining moments—do you want to know where that is to be found? It is to be found in the Catholic Church.

To put it differently, what does the Catholic Church claim? That it is the church of Jesus Christ most fully and rightly ordered through time. So says the great constitution on the church, Lumen Gentium. It follows that if one believes what the Catholic Church says of itself to be true, then he is obliged to enter into and remain in communion with the Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church readily recognizes that the fullness of the saving and sanctifying grace of God is not limited to the Catholic Church. All of those, says the Second Vatican Council, who are baptized and believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are truly but imperfectly in communion with the Catholic Church. Many of our non-Catholic friends don’t appreciate that formulation. They say, “You are converting us by definition. Thanks but no thanks. If I want to be converted, I’ll make the decision.” I understand that response, but there is a flipside to it. For if all who are baptized and believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are truly but imperfectly in communion with the Catholic Church, then all Catholics are truly but imperfectly in communion with all of their other brothers and sisters in Christ. So it cuts both ways. “That They May Be One.”

- Fr. Richard John Richard Neuhuas

Monday, April 23, 2007

It was William James

"It was the secular theorist William James who defined religion almost wholly in terms of individual experience, feeling, and behavior. In this view, theology, philosophy, and ecclesiology are but secondary growths and are often set against the early, purer (“innocent”) form of the religion. All three disciplines, in fact, often serve that nasty “spirit of politics” in helping to suppress further religious innovation.

Readers should not be surprised if this critique catches a familiar chord. In one variation, it is the Free Church critique, of Catholicism in particular and of “second-hand” tradition-bound religion in general (e.g., “They rely upon works and rituals and man-made authority while we have a direct pipeline.”). In another, it’s the rationale of “New-Agey” types everywhere (“I’m into spirituality, not stifling religion.”). In its most diffuse form, it seems to have slipped into the water supply of the United States, prompting your average Joe Taxpayer to mouth pieties about the problems with “organized religion,” which often degenerate into attacks on the Catholic Church that would have made the Know Nothings proud.

What the above groups may fail to understand is that they’re riding the shockwaves of a trend that is both quite ancient and thoroughly Catholic. The shift toward the individual in the church predated both James and Protestantism by a fair clip. “From the high Middle Ages,” he writes, “we can see a steadily increasing emphasis on a religion of personal commitment and devotion over forms centered on collective ritual.” From the Lateran Council of 1215 to the Brethren of the Common Life in the 1500s, the emphasis of church teaching shifted sharply toward emphasizing the individual’s relationship with God."

- Jeremy Lott, Books and Culture Online

"As an educated American audience 100 years ago, you certainly would have read the work of William James, who argued in Will to Believe and in Varieties of Religious Experience that religious experience is good not because it is true but because it is therapeutic. James wrote that religious experiences have every right to be authoritative over the individuals to whom they come, but “no authority emanates from them which should make it a duty for those who stand outside them.”

Almost every mainline Protestant church was deeply affected by this movement, which essentially conceded defeat over scientific and philosophical issues. One branch of pietism was “liberal” in the sense that it not only conceded defeat but also enthusiastically endorsed the authority of modern worldviews in matters intellectual. Of course, in North America, this movement sparked a vehement reaction, sometimes called “fundamentalism.” But it, too, tended to play by the new rules of the game. Which is to say that personal religious experience and piety defined the orbit of acceptable religion."

- Russell Hittinger, How Now Shall We Bear Witness?

Confessing your faults one to another

Leo XII on frequent confession:

"As you well know, venerable brethren, it is true that venial sins may be expiated in many ways which are to be highly commended. But to ensure more rapid progress day by day in the path of virtue, we will that the pious practice of frequent confession, which was introduced into the Church by the inspiration of the Holy spirit, should be earnestly advocated. By it genuine self-knowledge is increased, Christian humility grows, bad habits are corrected, spiritual neglect and tepidity are resisted, the conscience is purified, the will strengthened, a salutary self-control is attained, and grace is increased in virtue of the Sacrament itself. Let those, therefore, among the younger clergy who make light of or lessen esteem for frequent confession realize that what they are doing is alien to the Spirit of Christ and disastrous for the Mystical Body of our Savior...for the divine Redeemer is most closely united not only with His Church, which is His Beloved Spouse, but also with each and every one of the faithful, and He ardently desires to speak with them heart to heart."

- Mystici Corporis.

Oh Dear.

"Author Dennis Covington sets out to Scottsboro, Alabama to cover the trial of preacher Rev. Glenn Summerford who attempted to kill his wife with rattlesnakes. What started out as an ordinary assignment for the journalist soon grew into a maze of self-discovery and excitement. During his first encounter with a snake-handling service, no snakes were even taken out, but little did he know that he was embarking on a journey that he would not be able to forget. During the early stages of his snake-handling experience, Covington was enthralled with the process of snake handling and seemed to be seized by the desire to learn more about it. Even when the trial of Rev. Glenn Summerford came to an end, Covington began his own journey into the world of discovering the rationale for the religious snake-handling that he was so curious about..."

More here.

The Christian's "Right" to Bear Arms

Christians, having been definitively made juridically and ontologically dead in Christ, (we hope) logically have no "rights." We have an intrinsic dignity that God grants, and which society should recognize. We also have responsibilities to our families and our society, all of which are subsumed to our primary obedience to Christ. -For the record, I do not quite know how the ultimate duty to "go into the world to make disciples" accords with the right to own and carry an AK 47; I do not understand how one purports to hold baptizing the bodies of sinners and shooting them as simultaneous prerogatives.

Here are some helpful thoughts on point:

"This woman, a person seeking to embrace a life in Christ, was deeply concerned that if gun control legislation were enacted, she would have to surrender a significant part of her lifestyle—a part that she had considered to be not only not sinful, but wholesome. In addition, she saw her right to possess guns as virtually a sacred one. How could members of the church she planned to join possibly be against something that was sacred? What she failed to perceive was the relative nature of the Second Amendment. While I believe that the way she used firearms was not inconsistent with her new-found faith, this cannot be said of all gun use.

The right to private property (in this case guns) is not absolute. An individual’s right to own and bear arms, as well as actually to use them, must be balanced by the greater social needs of a society and its citizens’ right to safety. There are good reasons why restrictions may need to be placed on the possession and use of firearms. With regard to certain types and classes of firearms, even the possibility of possessing them is bad for society.

The framers of the Bill of Rights envisioned the Second Amendment during a time when the United States was a fledgling nation. In all probability, they could not have imagined the levels of violence that confront Americans in today’s society. We live amid what has been termed a "culture of violence." While there is some evidence that violent crime may have lessened recently, Americans still murder each other with guns 19 times more often than do the people of the 25 other wealthiest nations. In addition, among the 36 wealthiest, the United States has the highest proportion of suicides from guns. While it is claimed that guns may be necessary to protect oneself and one’s loved ones, they may just as likely be used to provide criminals or mentally ill people with easy access to the means to cause irrevocable harm.

I believe that the government has a responsibility to its citizens to limit access to certain types of firearms, as well as to set the parameters under which its citizens may exercise their Second Amendment rights. An analogous example commonly cited is that of the restrictions placed on owning and operating a motor vehicle. Cars are registered and licensed, just as are their operators. "Rules of the road" stipulate how a driver may use his or her vehicle. These rules place limitations on drivers, not as a punishment, but as a way to ensure the welfare and safety of travelers. While the "rules of the road" may vary from state to state, they are largely consistent in order to make the roads of the nation safe. Obviously, these rules are sometimes broken, and people are injured and killed. And sometimes they may seem not to apply, such as the rule that requires a stop at a red light at 2 a.m. when no other car is in sight. Yet we would be far worse off without them. Sensible regulation of firearms is just as reasonable."

- More from The Most Rev. Michael W. Warfel here.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Catherine of Siena, 1380

Feast Day, April 29

(the patroness of this blog....)

One of those child saints who fled the good life in order to fast and promised her life to virginity... an advocate of the Church and an adviser of pontiffs... a doctor of the Church and a prototype of the mystical Bride of Christ... A Dominican and a robust fan of horse racing.

I write to strengthen you in the precious blood of the Son of God, desiring to see you consumed in the fire of his charity….When God visits you with measureless gifts, let your memory open immediately to receive what your intellect knows in His divine love, and let your will rise with burning desire to receive and gaze at the blazing heart of the giver, the gentle, good Jesus. Thus, you will find yourself burning and clothed with fire, and with the gift of the blood of God’s Son, and you will be free from all pain and unease. This is what took away the pain of the holy disciples when they had to leave Mary and one another, although they willingly bore the separation in order to spread the word of God.

Run, run, run to Him."

How do we feel about parish shopping?

As a newly minted RC, one faces the new experience of being part of a truly universal communion that is explicitly united in the essential ways. Accordingly, one technically does not need to "shop" for a parish; one can quiet fears about valid orders, orthodox homiletics (hopefully), and "fellowship" and just obediently and regularly show up, as St. Augustine taught, in the parish that is closest to one's home. There, one fulfills what C.S. Lewis describes as the vocation of the layman: to submit with obedience and thanksgiving to whatever of the available teaching and companionship is good, and then to persist in sincere commitment, seeking humbly to reform whatever is remiss.

However: another feature of this universal communion is that it also contains under its maternal roof the whole variety of Christendom's cultures. Among Rome's parishes there is charismatic RC, political RC, family life RC, monastic RC, high church RC, low church RC, evangelical RC, Anglican Use RC, Eastern Rite RC, Jesuit RC, Dominican RC, Franciscan RC, etc. etc. etc. There are even those select parishes that cater to the needs of young, single, transient yuppies. How to choose?

And ought one to "choose?"

The Hound of Heaven

Remember this? ...From the sermon at the Anglican Use parish of St. Mary the Virgin.

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped;
And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmèd fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat -- and a voice beat
More instant than the Feet --
"All things betray thee, who betrayest Me."

The rest is here.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Yale theologian Miroslav Volf gave a three-hour lecture at the Episcopal Church of St. Michael's and All Angels this morning in Dallas. Miroslav is suave and famous these days, but we do not hold that against him; if any one holds to the standards of the good, the true, and the beautiful as criteria for contemporary Christian theology, Volf's work is where you go.

(I get to have cocktails with Professor Volf and Fr. WB+ in a few hours, so I am blessed among grad students today)

I was particularly struck, as I always am, by Volf's treatment of forgiveness. Drawing from his last (and Archbishop-endorsed) title, Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace, Volf reminded us of the following beautiful principles: that Christian forgiveness is most purely a gift to the offender, not merely the therapeutic remedy that the victim permits to himself; that as a gift, forgiveness is an act that can be neither demanded nor commanded, but must always be the free (and often laborious) act that affirms our fundamental nature as creatures who were formed from nothing by the sheer freedom of God's own generosity; that the loss of pride and injury in the act of forgiveness enriches the self, and constitutes the forgiver's primal act of self-forgetfulness, by which God alone will remember him.

And finally this: we say so easily that God is love. What would it mean for the Church to understand that in this statement, we hear that God is generosity?...

A Great Recipe for Lamb

At our house, we celebrate the seasons of the Church with food. Soups in Lent, Indian on December 21st, etc. etc, and most importantly - lamb on/in Easter. I will probably never understand why ham has become the Easter standard. We most certainly don't say "O Hog of God, that takest away the sins of the world." We say lamb.

I think the problem with lamb is that so few have any idea how to prepare it, and so it becomes dry and unsatisfying. But, a well prepared leg of lamb is a wonderful treat. As well, it is particularly inexpensive, since so few people eat it. (Costco currently sells leg of lamb for $3.99 per pound.) Ever since I had started preparing lamb, I had grill-roasted it or oven-roasted it, I had simply doused it in olive oil, shoved garlic cloves in surgical slits, and seasoned it with salt, pepper, and rosemary. Very good results.

Then, I saw in Food & Wine an article about the Easter meal at the Veramonte Winery in Chile. There was the perfect recipe - a slow roasted, herb-crusted, beauty of a leg. I prepared it on Easter, and we were all blown away. It is so easy to prepare, and with a proper roasting pan and some fresh herbs - you're off to the land of lamb-filled ecstasy.

Here it is folks:


* 6 tablespoons fresh bread crumbs
* 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
* 6 garlic cloves, minced
* 6 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
* 3 tablespoons thyme leaves
* 3 tablespoons chopped rosemary
* 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
* One 7- to 8-pound bone-in leg of lamb at room temperature, fat trimmed
* Salt and freshly ground pepper
* 1/4 cup Dijon mustard


1. Preheat the oven to 325°. In a bowl, mix the bread crumbs with the butter, garlic, parsley, thyme, rosemary and lemon juice. Season the lamb all over with salt and pepper. Rub some of the herb mixture on the underside of the lamb and set in a roasting pan, fat side up. Spread the mustard over the top of the lamb, then pat the remaining herb mixture over the top of the lamb.
2. Bake the lamb for about 2 hours, until browned on top and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat registers 150° for medium meat.
3. Transfer the lamb to a carving board and let rest for 15 minutes. Carve into slices and serve.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Our Belief:

Jesus said, who do you say that I am? And Peter said, you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.

..."Persons are more apt to be correct in what they affirm that in what they deny. What we deny is generally something that lies outside our experience, and about which we can therefore say nothing."

H. R. Niebhur, Christ and Culture

Thursday, April 19, 2007

April 19, 1906

... on this day a century ago something known as the Azusa Street Revival began in Los Angeles. Pentecostalism in America was born. -Which brings us to the topic of speaking in tongues, slaying in the spirit, levitation, interpretation, prophetic utterances...

Recent Events

One of the blogs that I read daily in order to keep up with the machinations of the Christian Political Right! has some fun offerings on the recent tragedy at Virginia Tech. If any readers are interested in an occasion to debate how Christian pacificism stacks up against a Christian perogative to bear arms, you can find the convo here.

Those of us who have properly signed on to the Church's Just War Doctrine and its implications in such tragedies can calmly move on and get about the better job of holding the victims and their families in our prayers:

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

The MM Alphabet

Accent: Texan when I'm home, various elsewhere.
Best Feature: A lion's heart, I've been told.
Chore I Hate: Getting my car washed.
Dog or Cat: Absolutely dogs! Especially my mini black dachsund Ezali.
Essential Electronics: Mac Laptop, cell phone, IPod for working out.
Favorite Cologne(s): Anything from Creed.
Gold or Silver: Gold! - I feel really strongly about this.
Hometown: Remember the Alamo!
Insomnia: Hardly; I wish.
Job Title: PhD candidate in Theology.
Kids: God willing someday, a little girl named Caeli Christi (get it?!) and a little boy named after his daddy... etc. etc. etc.
Living arrangements: Apartments, with whistful glances at my parents' ranch.
Most admirable trait: My advisor says its "moxie."
Overnight hospital stays: Three, when a car ran over my head when I was a child.
Nemesis, arch. The devil, dammit.
Phobias: Swimming in the ocean, elevators, cramped spaces, the dark.
Quote: Come thou long expected Jesus.
Religion: Christian. Evangelical, charismatic, hyper orthodox. I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, Lord, Holy-Spirit conceived of His virgin mother, suffered, died, buried, descended, resurrected, ascended, waiting to return and judge. I worship Him in His Church, which I love with Him. In other words, I am a Catholic.
Siblings: Oldest of six, four charming boys and two formidable girls.
Time I wake up: Far too often, 4:00 AM.
Unusual talent or skill: I always score perfectly on the verbal sections of standardized tests.
Vegetable I refuse to eat: Steamed broccoli.
Worst habit: Anxiety.
X-rays: Teeth and neck (cf childhood accident).
Yummy stuff I cook: Famous Easter quiche, Indian beans and rice, Beef Bourgignonne, Creamed Spinach, ice water.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Father Nelson : A to Z

Accent: Pacific Northwest meets Midwest meets Texan
Best feature: Arms
Chore I Hate: last night's dishes
Dog or Cat: dogs all the way
Essential Electronics: my MotoQ and Black Macbook
Favorite Cologne(s): Burberry and the scent of Proraso (my favorite italian shaving cream)
Gold or Silver: Silver
Hometown: Federal Way, WA and Arlington, TX
Insomnia: never
Job Title: Director of Youth and Family Ministries - Saint Laurence Church, Southlake, TX
Kids: One - my little bird Moira Clare (age 8 months)
Living arrangements: 2br/2bath Duplex with my lovely wife
Most admirable trait: itegrity

Nemesis, arch: my childhood mailman, who later rammed my first car to get to our mailbox
Overnight hospital stays: three, all for the same broken arm
Phobias: eternal damnation
Quote: "When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die." Mr. Bonhoeffer
Religion: the One True Catholic Faith
Siblings: Brother Brad (24) and Sister Angela (22)
Time I wake up: 6:30am + 20min snooze
Unusual talent or skill: I can fix just about anything
Vegetable I refuse to eat: peas (situm sativum)
Worst habit: sin
X-rays: elbow, teeth, leg, ankle
Yummy stuff I cook: coq au vin, roasted leg of lamb, chicken alla daviola
Zany extras: I'm an Aggie

Meet your Friendly Vocatum Contributors

OK esteemed colleagues, I hereby command that each of us contributors introduce ourselves to our readers via the most noteworthy A-Z Meme. Just create a personal post that fills in all of the blanks. The world is waiting to learn a little bit more about a very young and highly ecumenical gathering of Anglo Catholic Episcopal priests, one evangelical pastor, and a bunch of grad students working in theology (-that's who we are, by the way).

So have at it rock stars, and post a photo or two... and be sure to tag some friends when you fill out your meme questions. Ready... set... Go.

Best feature:
Chore I Hate:
Dog or Cat:
Essential Electronics:
Favorite Cologne(s):
Gold or Silver:
Job Title:
Living arrangements:
Most admirable trait:
Nemesis, arch:
Overnight hospital stays:
Time I wake up:
Unusual talent or skill:
Vegetable I refuse to eat:
Worst habit:
Yummy stuff I cook:
Zany extras:

Monday, April 16, 2007

What do you say at a funeral?

It strikes me that this question would be an apt title for an entire COURSE in pastoral theology. It is at time likes these- when our sense of urgency about Christ's efficacy and our hope in God's mercy becomes most acute- that most of us least know what to say. I have a funeral coming up this week. What do you say to those who are grieving at a funeral?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Saint Faustina of the divine mercy

"For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on me and on the whole world."

- Plain and simple. In a lot of ways, this humble Polish nun accomplished within the Church what Martin Luther had only dreamed of...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Easter Fun!!!

Most of us know about how fun it is to listen to free, custom mixed music at But have you checked out these other sites as well? Awesome!

1. Last FM
2. Musicovery
3. MyStrands
4. Stage.FM
5. UpToll

Our Belief: Have you been to the Pantheon?

"Somehow I had never registered the enormity of what took place during that relatively brief period of history when pagan temples were converted to Christian churches. Out of dozens upon dozens of sects that had arisen in Rome during the first and second centuries A.D., one not only endured but took the entire city in its triumph. How could anyone fully engage that thought and dismiss even the possibility of Christ's divinity?"

- Randall Sullivan, The Miracle Detective.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Why do we bother?

Readers, I have written on this before. There are more than a few posts on this blog recounting the importance of orthodoxy, and calling for Christians to uphold the truth and clarity of the Gospel in a world that is rife with lies about who Jesus Christ is. But I am having a bit of a slump tonight. I have just finished reviewing the new web site of an enterprising Christian education initiative. The project is full of bright shining faces, lives that reflect God's love. But the thing is ridden with the worst kinds of heresy deep under the surface- allegations that Christ has not come in the flesh, and so on.

This makes me so sad. I need to review this project. I need to do so in love and clarity, and I am very tired. So, help me out. Why do we bother with orthodoxy? - Why not just let a few mistakes slide, hug the enemy, and go on our merry way?

Torquemada, pray for us.

Avery Dulles: Models of the Church

As most of you know, I get ANTSY over the following things: boring movies, militant femminism, cliches, bad Mexican food, cheap coffee, anti-ecumenical slurs, belated thank-you notes.

Most of all, however, I worry about sloppy modern ecclesiology. Most Christians haven't got a clue about what to do with such language as I Timothy's reference to "the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth," or Ephesian's lauding of the ontological Bride awaiting her Bridegroom's consummation (blush), nor for that matter, C.S. Lewis' descriptions of "that impenetrable band throughout the ages, terrible as an army with banners"(- from The Screwtape Letters- that, folks, was off the top of my head). Etc.

Far too often, we moderns hear these shocking references and then duck back into familiar, stilted ways of thinking about what it means to be part of Christ's chosen people; we get muddled in that unique three-ring circus of our modern millieu that so eagerly offers to substitute our own precious self-identity, or the tidy Christian family, or the suburban USA for the Bride of Christ. Sorry, folks. None of these entities are going to Heaven.

Cardinal Dulles speaks into this modern muddle. His is hardly the barbaric yawp that's needed, but he does his fair share to clarify our language and delineate the origins of popular metaphors for the Church. Dulles deals with such metaphors as the Church as institution, the Church as sacrament, the Church as community, etc. More here. My favorite section deals with the Church as sacrament- the Church as a visible sign of Christ's commitment to the world, an efficacious link between God and His creatures that continually calls others to join in.

However, I think there is something missing in Dulle's book- why do we not hear more about the Church as the new Israel? Is this not PC? I think such references would be terribly helpful in modern thinking about the Church. Not only do we have plenty of New Testament warrant for such a connection, but the allusion would also clarify so much of the traditional understanding of the Church as a pilgrim people among the nations, as the locus of God's covenanting with His people, as witness, as harbinger, etc. etc.

What do you think?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Appalling: Frederick Buechner on Abortion

... or a bad joke:

"Speaking against abortion, someone has said, "No one should be denied access to the great feast of life," to which the rebuttal, obviously enough, is that life isn't much of a feast for the child born to people who don't want it or can't afford it or are one way or another incapable of taking care of it and will one way or another probably end up abusing or abandoning it.

How would Jesus himself decide, he who is hailed as the Lord of Life and yet who says that it is not the ones, who, like abortionist, kill the body we should fear but the ones who can kill the body and soul together the way only the world into which it is born can kill the unloved, unwanted child. (Matthew 10:28)?

There is perhaps no better illustration of the truth that in an imperfect world there are no perfect solutions. All we can do, as Luther said, is to sin boldly, which is to say (a) know that neither to have the child nor not to have the child is without the possibility of tragic consequences for everybody yet (b) be brave in knowing that not even that can put us beyond the forgiving love of God."

- Frederick Buechner, Whistling in the Dark.

Good grief. No doubt that Buechner, as a writer of his tradition and time, may represent the best of a theological world view "freed" from the constraints of Christian sacramentality. But this dying world is dangerous enough without such ridiculous presumption. I do not care how lofty your imagination of God's mercy is- if we fail to celebrate that He is who is Mercy Himself became flesh, the father of lies is somewhere distorting the Gospel. If we fail to let His Incarnation bear on our policies towards the least of His enfleshed little brothers and sisters, then we have denigrated Him too. I do not care how many notions of unmerited grace an author throws around in a treatment like Buechner's- if warrant is thereby provided for the killing of babies, the devil is somewhere lurking around.

Monday, April 09, 2007


I'm off this morning for a viewing of the world's paramount exhibition of ancient Ethiopian icons and processional crosses, which is just very cool. Join me! Check out the exhibition details and see the great slide show offered by the Museum of Biblical Arts here.

"One remarkable thing about Benedict’s papacy has been that he has largely disarmed the left wing of the church...

...Pope Benedict XVI says he believes that the Roman Catholic Church in Europe faces a dire threat in secularism and that re-Christianizing the Continent is critical not only to the fate of the church but to the fate of Europe itself."

More from the New York Times here. Easter gratitude to our wonderful reader KI for the link!

Applaudo, Benedetto.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Our Redeemer Lives! Happy Easter

Mighty Victim from on high!
Hell's fierce powers beneath thee lie.
Thou has conquered in the fight,
Thou has brought us life and light.

Now no more can death appal!
Now no more the grave enthrall.
Thou has opened Paradise,
And in Thee Thy Saints shall rise.

- Robert Campbell, 1814

Hello Father, Hello Mother

Some time ago, a certain young woman had gotten into the Tiber.

In God's grace, she has just made it safely to the other side.

One thing have I desired of the LORD, and one thing I will seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord, and to seek Him in His Temple. Psalm 27

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Harrowing of Hell

Today Christians are bidden to wait in watchful silence at the tomb of our Lord for His coming Resurrection. But beautiful tradition holds that our Lord was not sleeping in that tomb; as Holy Whapping reminds us-

Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: "My Lord be with you all." Christ answered him: "And with your spirit." He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: "Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light."

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, 0 sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.

For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Holy Week

No blogging here this week.

A time for confession. A time for silence and stillness. A time for waiting for an assured rejoicing. It's the final stretch on the road to the resurrection. It's just a matter of time.

"We ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves...But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us. ... not because of any works of righteousness that we have done, but according to His mercy."

Titus 3:3-7

Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Palm Sunday

"Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about (God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.")

Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, "Father?"
"Yes, my son?" Abraham replied.
"The fire and wood are here," Isaac said, "but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"

Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son."

-Genesis 22