31 March 2009

Look who's going to Mass...

Just wanted to share!  

Life as a University Chaplain -- love it!

I love this job! Especially the kindly misunderstanding of it even from those who are supportive. My favorite question upon telling someone that I am the Catholic chaplain at Vanderbilt is: "Oh, is that a full-time job?"

Right now, I am dealing with at least three "hot-button" cultural issues in public dialogue in a climate where it is absolutely necessary to be extremely prudent and extremely well-informed. The acrobatics of trying to know my stuff and being kind about it is doing a lot for my growth in knowledge and charity! I am also dealing with the perils of undergraduate life -- breakups and breakdowns. And then there is my favorite: raising the money to pay for the above which is more than anything the job of communicating what my job is!

I am telling you that there is nowhere where the Church is more reviled that in a university and nowhere where the Church needs to be more than in a university. The reviling of the Church is, I believe, a reviling of the mess of human existence, especially the misery of "Everyman's" soul. The Church stands in the midst of this misery of alienation and shows that one does not have to be miserable in this way. There is the comfort of truth. There is the comfort of fidelity. There is the comfort of communion. But these comforts come at the price of love, and that price is too high for some. The Everyman of the university fears making himself vulnerable enough to love. There ought to be a way, he thinks, to "fix" the world (... myself?) without having to love. Condoms can take care of AIDS so forget chastity, to use an example from one of the "hot" topics. And yet, the desire to love is there. Everyman keeps coming back to the Church, even if only to insult her.

Blessedly and wondrously, there are those who fall in love with love. These are the joy of my work. They are just as sharp and hard working as the miserable Everyman, but they start by being loved by love. It is enough.

29 March 2009

Extreme Blogging Lameness

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I would apologize for not blogging more recently, but I am not sure that I am sorry. I may have been saving your time and mine! For me, the last few weeks have been overwhelming so that I did not think that I had much time. But even if I had had all the time in the world (and I guess that is how much time I actually did have -- but I digress), I wonder what I have to say that is worth anyone else's time. Lately I have been intrigued by "quasi-categorical imperatives" of my own devising. For example, since I don't have nearly enough time for all the good thing that I could and should be doing, it is obvious that I should not have any time at all for the bad stuff! My spiritual director advised me about some vice that I was struggling with simply to "crowd it out" of my life. Along those same lines, as long as there is better stuff for people to read and spend their time on, why should they waste their time on what I have to say? And believe me, there is a lot better stuff than what I have to say -- for example anything by all those people whose names begin with "S", the saints.

This brings me to the problem of the preacher. Today, I am preaching the cross. Last week, I preached the cross. See what I mean? But how do you improve on that, especially if it is what the Church gives you in the scriptures for the day? Answer: you don't!

25 March 2009


The Church sees in Mary the highest expression of the "feminine genius" and she finds in her a source of constant inspiration. Mary called herself the "handmaid of the Lord" (Lk 1:38). Through obedience to the Word of God she accepted her lofty yet not easy vocation as wife and mother in the family of Nazareth. Putting herself at God's service, she also put herself at the service of others: a service of love. Precisely through this service Mary was able to experience in her life a mysterious, but authentic "reign". It is not by chance that she is invoked as "Queen of heaven and earth". The entire community of believers thus invokes her; many nations and peoples call upon her as their "Queen". For her, "to reign" is to serve! Her service is "to reign"!

This is the way in which authority needs to be understood, both in the family and in society and the Church. Each person's fundamental vocation is revealed in this "reigning", for each person has been created in the "image" of the One who is Lord of heaven and earth and called to be his adopted son or daughter in Christ. Man is the only creature on earth "which God willed for its own sake", as the Second Vatican Council teaches; it significantly adds that man "cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of self" (Gaudium et Spes24).

08 March 2009

Back Home

As of about 1 a.m. Sunday morning, we are back in Nashville. Too much, too soon to blog about. In any case, know that it was a great trip to Honduras and no problems. Thanks be to God, and thanks for your prayers. Right now, I'm overwhelmed with emails, voicemails, and mail. It will take a while to get back in stride!

One of the best experiences of the time at the mission was the order of the days! To bring some of that order into my regular and unfortunately irregular schedule is my number one resolution.