30 October 2008

You are free ... to be a saint

Express your freedom radically. Be a saint. That is the way to cause change -- by being changed by the love of Jesus Christ. As Cardinal Newman says: "To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often."

24 October 2008


This is alumni weekend at Vanderbilt. Because of the history of the Catholic chaplaincy, we have almost no records of alumni. We would love to be more in touch with you. We would love for you to know what we are doing these days (a lot!). We would love for you to be more involved. If you are out there, let us know who you are and how to contact you. You can register online at the www.vanderbiltcatholic.org web site. Let us know when you were at Vanderbilt and how we can serve you! Go 'Dores!

15 October 2008

Pope Benedict, Doctor of the Church

There is a synod of bishops going on in Rome right now considering the written Word of God in the life of the Church. This is an important topic because for a long time now the professional, academic study of scripture has been divorced from the liturgical and devotional life of the Church and of the faithful. I remember being in seminary and hearing the complaint about reading modern Biblical scholarship that it was so boring and so uninspiring to the life of faith in Jesus Christ. Many seminarians therefore did not relish the study of sacred scripture. This is a problem. In the patristic and medieval periods, most scripture commentary was directly rooted in the liturgical life of the Church and of believers. Its starting point was faith, not criticism or doubt. Scholars and ordinary faithful were looking at the Bible from the same perspective and therefore could speak to each other and understand each other. That has not been the case for a long time. The Bible more and more became an object to use in theological debates, especially since the Reformation. It eventually became an object to dissect apart from a community of faith altogether. Pope Benedict wants to do something about this great divorce of the study of scripture from the life of faith.

Yesterday at the synod, the Pope made an unexpected talk about this problem, reading from his own hand-written notes. This is like one of the Fathers, whose integration of faith in Jesus Christ and study of the Bible Benedict XVI is recommending. The Holy Father is acting like a doctor of the Church -- a teacher. Let's listen and learn.

13 October 2008


Thanks for the prayers for Vandy Awakening III. It was a time of grace and blessings. It sort of surprises me how a retreat that I have been on five times and is designed for college students continues to bear such fruit for me, the old chaplain. Frankly, there is the joy of seeing younger people, whom I respect, admire, and love, growing in their love for God in so many ways. Awakening is not, however, only a vicarious experience for me. I am inspired, prompted to make resolutions, and touched by the love of God just like a first time retreater. This is what a retreat should do. I pray that all on the retreat will be given the grace to put these inspirations, resolutions, and affections into effect in our lives.

07 October 2008

VA#3 -- Pray it up!

Please be praying to St. Michael to protect the resolution of all of our Vandy Awakening III retreaters to make it to the retreat. The Evil One hates Awakening and wants to keep the retreaters away. They develop all sorts of cold feet and conflicts. Pray that they might have peace to surrender to God's love! Whoop!

05 October 2008

How 'bout them 'Dores!

Since I am a life-long Vanderbilt fan, please allow me to celebrate the victory over Auburn last night. I can even add a bit of [dubious] theological reflection. Although I don't think that I have mentioned her in the blog, those who are subjected to my preaching know about Sr. Catherine de Ricci, O.P. She was the principal of St. Pius X School here in Nashville when I began there in the 3rd grade. She is a wise and holy woman. At St. Pius, we usually lost in sports because we were such a small school -- sound familiar Vanderbilt fans? My sister, who is now Sr. Margaret Andrew, O.P., was upset about a lost basketball game and was told by Sr. Catherine de Ricci: "God didn't want you to win, honey." She was right about that. But we have to take the other side as well. God must have wanted Vanderbilt to win last night!