30 July 2011

Irish Picnic

I will be running out to St. Patrick's in McEwen, TN today to bring back a whole lot of barbecue and secret sauce. I have to squeeze it in with a wedding today. But I have to go!

If you are anywhere in the area -- I mean within 200 miles -- you should go too!

26 July 2011

A Docile Heart

Pope Benedict sheds some light and sweetness on a thorny topic. The text is the first reading from last Sunday's Mass.

Dear brothers and sisters!

Today in the Liturgy, the Old Testament reading presents to us the figure of King Solomon, son and successor of David. He is presented to us at the beginning of his reign, when he was still very young. Solomon inherited a demanding task and the responsibility that weighed on him was great for a young sovereign. The first thing that he did was offer a solemn sacrifice to God –- "1,000 holocausts," the Bible says. Then the Lord appeared to him in a vision at night and promised him to grant him what he asked for in prayer. And here we see the greatness of Solomon's soul: he did not ask for a long life, nor riches, nor the elimination of his enemies; instead he said to the Lord: "Grant a docile heart to your servant that he might know how to render justice to his people and know how to distinguish good from evil" (1 Kings 3:9). And the Lord heard him, so that Solomon became celebrated in all the world for his wisdom and his just judgments.

Solomon asked God for "a docile heart." What does this expression mean? We know that in the Bible the "heart" does not only mean a part of the body, but the center of the person, the seat of his intentions and his judgments. We might say that it is the conscience. "Docile heart" therefore means a conscience that knows how to listen, which is sensitive to the voice of truth, and because of this it is able to discern good from evil. In the case of Solomon, the request is guided by the responsibility of leading a nation, Israel, the people through whom God had chosen to manifest his plan of salvation to the world. For this reason the king of Israel must seek to be in harmony with God, listening to his Word, to lead his people in the ways of the Lord, the ways of justice and peace.

But Solomon's example is valid for every man. Each of us has a conscience to be in a certain sense "king," that is, to exercise the great human dignity of acting according to a properly formed conscience, doing good and avoiding evil. Moral conscience presupposes the capacity to hear the voice of truth, to be docile to its instructions. Persons who are called to the office of ruling of course have a further responsibility, and therefore -- as Solomon says -- have even more need of God. But each person has his own part to perform in the concrete situation in which he finds himself. An erroneous mentality suggests that we ask God for nice things and privileged situations; in fact, the true quality of our life and social existence depends on each person's properly formed conscience, on the capacity of each and every person to recognize the good, separating it from evil, and to attempt patiently to realize it.

So, let us ask for the help of the Virgin Mary, Seat of Wisdom. Her "heart" is perfectly "docile" to the Lord's will. Although she is a humble and simple person, Mary is a queen in the eyes of God, and as such we venerate her. May the Holy Virgin help us also to form, with God's grace, a conscience always open to the truth and sensitive to justice, to serve the Kingdom of God.

24 July 2011

My homily today

As Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., notes in his Modern Catholic Dictionary, "Where faith is a simple knowledge of the articles of Christian belief, wisdom goes on to a certain divine penetration of the truths themselves."

This was the gist of my homily today.

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You knew it wouldn't last

I just had to share this one from Archbishop Gomez on St. Mary Magdalene. That is the kind of counter culture we need!

She is one of my favorites. I know that I am on very shaky ground (and also in good company), but I like to identify her with Mary of Bethany.

22 July 2011


People -- it's time for me to take a break. I have work to do. And I seem to have less and less to say. Who know how long it will last?

20 July 2011

Quiet beofre the storm

Now that our filming is over, it is quiet around here. Yet one month from today is the arrival day for new students! That means that Roman Rush begins in just one month! Yikes! So much work...so little time! Pray!

17 July 2011

Lights, camera, action

That's what it has been at Frassati House this week, as those of you know who have tried to come by the house -- we were backdoor friends this week!

In our partnership with the Newman Connection, a sound and camera crew from New York (this Nashvillian's pride was a little bruised by that) were filming our very own Chad Michael Cunningham giving his iFacts "College Catholicism" course for on-line viewing this fall. Chad is sure to be the next Mother Angelica ;-)

Seriously, I am very happy that we can share the wealth we have in our pillar of intellectual formation. Just wait 'til you see what's next! A little Dante, anyone?

Go sign up to be united in prayer on the Vanderbilt page of the Newman Connection site.

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11 July 2011

The Necessity to Evangelize

"But as for us, can we gain salvation if through negligence or fear or shame- what St. Paul called "blushing for the Gospel"[134] - or as a result of false ideas we fail to preach it? For that would be to betray the call of God, who wishes the seed to bear fruit through the voice of the ministers of the Gospel; and it will depend on us whether this grows into trees and produces its full fruit."
Evangelii Nuntiandi, 80

I would love to hear your answer to Pope Paul VI's question: Can we be saved, if we fail to evangelize?

10 July 2011

Vandy Catholic Belles


30, 60, and 100 fold! OK -- so when are you and your 30 new friends (to take the most conservative number) heading off to Mass this morning? Wow, I'm behind already!

So often I see the faces of people I encounter -- even at Mass, and I don't see joy or peace. And I fail to evangelize them -- to give them the Good News of Jesus Christ. Or I am discouraged when I try and my efforts seem to fall flat. But one who loves is not easily discouraged.

Lord, re-evangelize my heart this morning! Remind me of your goodness and every perfection. Protect me from the evil one, who delights to trip me up in sin and then accuses me to rob me of joy.

Now, let me bear fruit -- ABUNDANTLY!

04 July 2011

Feast of BPG!

Happy Feast of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati! Yes, the 4th of July is our heavenly patron's feast day. Come for Mass at 5:30 p.m. today at the Cathedral here in Nashville to celebrate the feast!

03 July 2011

Making Saints, in the process

It is said that the mission of the Church is to make saints. It is always good to see how we are doing! I hope that we are coming along here at Vanderbilt Catholic, and I think that there are signs that maybe we are.

I love Vandy Catholic weddings. There was one last night -- Betsy and David Donlon's. It makes me so happy (and maybe just a little bit proud) when I see the love and reverence for Jesus in these young Catholics shine out. It is best at Mass, as it was last night. In a church with lots of my generation (and older) Catholics and lots of non-Catholics, the critical mass of the younger generation of Catholics tipped the balance. It would be hard to use political terms to describe the sort of devotion displayed at the Mass. Such terms simply do not apply. It was just joyful and confident Catholicism. And not that it was meant to, but it made an impression on Catholic and non-Catholic alike.

It was so like the witness of Betsy and David. No show, all reality. I remember seeing Betsy sitting in the back of the Cathedral during daily Mass and slipping quickly and quietly out before she could be spoken to, literally for months. I had to ask who she was, and it was David who told me, long before they were dating. I let her be -- with God. It seems that it has turned out well!