29 April 2008

St. Catherine of Siena

Today we celebrate the feast day of St. Catherine of Siena. St. Catherine was a woman of tremendous influence in her time not because of her wealth or power but because of her prayer. She lived in some of the darkest times in the history of the Church. She was critical of the abuse in the Church but saw the solution in building up the supernatural reality of the Church and its leaders rather than by tearing them down. We live in different times, but the emphasis on the supernatural is right for us as well. We must live as if we really do believe that we are children of God, that communion with God in the sacraments and prayer really is the "one thing necessary," that Heaven is our true home, etc. We will be so much more effective in this world if we do.

28 April 2008


These are the heroic days. Think about exams this way. An exam is your opportunity to prove yourself. I was so impressed by how many of you ran in the marathon. Can you imagine having trained and prepared for the race and then not running? What a let down! Your final exams and papers are your chance to "show your stuff"! Even more than the marathon, which is an optional choice, your school work is part of your vocation so you have another great motive for being pumped about exams -- another way of saying "yes" to God!

I am praying for you.

24 April 2008


As Pope Benedict reminds us so simply and startlingly, Jesus is God in the world. This is what it means to be a Christian -- one who believes that God is in the world in Jesus Christ. He came into the world in the Incarnation and remains bodily in the world by the power of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in the Eucharist. This is what we believe and what we offer the world. He still makes us holy when we worship His real presence and let Him live in us. Let's not depart from Him at any time or in any situation. Let the Lord Jesus live as we pray, as we work, even as we struggle with our sins. Let's not worry about the plans and programs we devise. They will succeed or fail. We will carry on. Plans and programs are easy to come by. God is not, except for the Christian.

22 April 2008

Thoughts on the last day of classes

I'm really not sure if anyone reads these posts, but this one will be different from the ones I have done in the past. If I were grading Vandy+Catholic (including myself), I'm not sure how I would do it. I am delighted by so much of what I see happening: Deeper and deeper love of the Lord Jesus Christ being manifested in so many ways. I can only be delighted. Much credit is due to the student leadership and the FOCUS team. I must in justice again point out the heroic generosity of the FOCUS missionaries in sharing their very lives with us. I must acknowledge the apostolic hearts of the student leaders. There are, of course, always more calls for us to worship, serve, and learn to which we need to respond. The only thing that clouds my reflection, however, is the large number of Catholics (and others) on campus that seem to be unperceiving of His love, despite the wonderful examples and the efforts to reach them. So we must set out into deeper waters, going where the catch seems doubtful -- deeper into the life of the university in academic work, dorm life, athletics, Greek involvement, organizational activities -- fortified by prayer, the sacraments, and service with confidence only in the love of Jesus to win hearts and minds.

21 April 2008

The Future of the Church in America

"The future of the Church in America must even now begin to rise." These are Pope Benedict's words to us here at Vanderbilt, as well as to the whole Church in America. We must rise, and we would do well to follow the example of the Pope himself during his visit to our country. He relentlessly proclaimed the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Even though the power to destroy remains in the world, "it never triumphs; it is defeated." Here is the formula for this victory: 1) personal prayer and silence, 2) Mass and confession, 3) charity in action, 4) vocation.

12 April 2008

The Pope is Coming!

The Pope is coming! I think that we feel excitement about Pope Benedict coming to the United States because we realize that we have a shepherd to teach us with the authority of Christ. We are not left to figure things out the best we can on our own. I noticed an article in the Hustler (don't worry -- it's the Vanderbilt newspaper!) this week about a discussion on love with a respected professor here at Vanderbilt. From the article there seemed to have been very little specific direction given about love, even though this professor is a noted scholar of philosophy and has a long and happy marriage. I am happy that our Church claims to teach with authority. The focus of our week of "Love and Responsibility" is the teaching of Pope John Paul II on the theology of the body. At another time of controversy in the Church, Pope Leo the Great wrote a treatise on a disputed point to guide the bishops gathered for an ecumenical council. The bishops were so grateful for this direction that they exclaimed: "Peter has spoken through Leo!" This week we will have the opportunity for Peter to speak through John Paul and Benedict! Thanks be to God!

06 April 2008

a week of love and responsibility

Beginning next Sunday, Vandy+Catholic will be observing "Love and Responsibility" Week. This week will explore the truth written into the human body and the way in which love is authentically embodied. Truth and authenticity, along with sacrifice, are the prerequisites for love. Pope John Paul II is the great teacher of this theology of the body, and the theme "Love and Responsibility" comes from his work. If you are searching for an understanding of yourself, especially in relationship to another, don't miss the events of "Love and Responsibility" Week. You won't hear it anywhere else!

02 April 2008

God loves the world

If you don't believe me, look it up (John 3:16). We need to love the world too so that the world can know the love of God. That's the vocation of us secular folks. Love your family. Love your work. Love your school. Love your friends. Love your enemies. Love them enough to bring the love of God to them.