Happy Friday: Links Worth Clicking, Almost Palm Sunday Edition

By Kate Morroni

The beginning of Holy Week is just around the corner. How is Lent going for you? It’s not too late to dig in and make this a more fruitful Lent.

Here are a few links from the last week or so that may interest you:

1. The pope is encouraging us to pray for the “grace of joy.” (National Catholic Reporter)

2. 5 ways St. Joseph can help your Lent (Catholic Exchange, via Coming Home Network)

3. What Not to Say When Talking About Confession (right here on CatholicHow)

4. Ceiling Painting at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary (McCrery Architects, via Kenrick-Glennon Seminary) – One beautiful take on “the perfected heavenly realm” from my hometown

5. Pregnant but Still Want to Keep Lent? Here Are 8 Alternatives to Fasting (ChurchPop) — These ideas could apply to us breastfeeding mamas, too…

6. “There are always ‘Holy Saturdays,’ times when God seems silent.” –Archbishop Aquila of Denver

7. This tweet:

8. And this one:

9. “Which story are we living in? What sort of a king are we following?” (ABC Religion & Ethics) These questions and much more to consider from N. T. Wright as we approach Holy Week…

10. Pope: “May Holy Week help us accept God’s ways” (Vatican Radio)

11. The Passion Narrative of Mark’s Gospel (Fr. Robert Barron)


What Not To Say When Talking About Confession

By Brian Niemiec


This week’s homily on sin brought up a host of questions during our RCIA class. Are some sins worse than others? Why do we need to confess to a priest? Why does the Pope go to confession so often? Now, truth be told, I was a little off my game that morning. It had been a late night, but my co-catechist and I were doing a fairly good job of breaking open a subject we had not prepared to talk about.

Then, however, came the question, “But are little sins every now and again really a big deal? I mean as long as you are generally a good person, aren’t a few sins here or there ok?” Well, I fell flat on my face, and found myself waste deep in relativism. Thankfully my partner saved me from committing the greatest sin of any minister: leading the faithful astray.

My big blunder in the vocal vomit of my answer was forgetting Jesus.  In my attempt to reassure this person that we are all human, and mistakes and sins are part of that humanity, I had forgotten the all-important challenge of being ever more human, that is, to be ever more like Christ.  The Pope goes to confession so often because he has grown close to Christ in his life, and encountering the person of Jesus so intimately, he more easily recognizes the imperfections that you and I tend to miss completely. Continue reading What Not To Say When Talking About Confession

Happy Friday: Links Worth Clicking


By Katie Morroni

Lent is more than halfway complete. It’s a good time to check our progress.

Lent has been very much a process for me, and I have fallen down more times than I can count. But I keep committing and recommitting to see it through, hobbling as best I can toward the joys of Easter.

How is Lent going for you? What’s surprised you so far in your journey?

Here’s a few links worth clicking from the last week or so:

1. Here’s a stark and much-needed reminder from Fr. Robert Barron: “I know how easy it is to domesticate Jesus, presenting him as a kindly and inspiring moral teacher, but that is not how the Gospels present him. He is a cosmic warrior who has come to do battle with all of those forces that keep us from being fully alive.”

2. Whoa. Here’s a headline I didn’t expect to read: Scholar Claims Van Gogh Hid Secret Homage to Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper In His Café Terrace at Night. Get this (emphasis my own): “According to Baxter, around the time that van Gogh crafted Café Terrace at Night, he wrote to his brother Theo, referencing the painting and claiming that he had a ‘tremendous need for, shall I say the word — for religion.’

3. I’m embarassed by how little I know about St. Patrick, but reading this article — about his time as a slave, and his advocating and empathy for others who were enslaved — made me want to learn so much more. The letter referenced? I’m going to try to track it down, especially in light of this (emphasis my own): “‘We do not have any other first person account of someone who was captured by barbarians and survived,’ the history professor explained. ‘We have nothing else quite like it.'”

4. A Mission of Love: “The Catholic idea of marriage and the family is a gift for the whole world. Catholics should give that gift away…” (George Weigel)

5. Called to Be a Saint (CatholicMom.com)

6. For those here in Denver, check out this upcoming Easter retreat. I’ve attended past retreats led by the Ignatian Spirituality Program of Denver and highly recommend their events.

7. What goes wrong when you’re always right (Unstuck) This article is intended as career advice, but I think it has insights on sin that are worthy of some reflection.

8. Jeb Bush, 20 years after conversion, is guided by his Catholic faith (NYT) I didn’t know he was a convert…

9. Keep a One-Sentence Journal, Be Happier (Science of Us / New York Magazine) PS: My favorite method? The Five-Minute Journal

10. How to Start Deeply Savoring Your Life (Shauna Niequist, via A Holy Experience)

11. For my friends on Twitter, here’s a worth invitation for this Lent, via Kathryn Jean Lopez:

12. And speaking of the Stations of the Cross…I haven’t listened yet, but this audio version from Pray As You Go is on my list to complete before Lent’s end:

The Real Problem with Judgment; Or, Listen to Isaiah the Prophet


Saying to the prisoners: Come out!
To those in darkness: Show yourselves!

By Matt Janeczko, OFM Cap.

Judgement, it seems, is under judgment yet again. I’ll leave what brings this up to you and your web browser.  Take a look.  It seems that, as a society, we’re hurtling toward the place where it is never right to judge anyone else, except in those cases where those who consider themselves “right” (amusing irony) judge those who are obviously wrong (bitter irony). (This is, as a good friend of my often notes, intellectual fascism.)

It seems, however, foolish to make the claim that we will not judge.  This happens each day, in ways small and large.  Parents, employees, coaches, and teachers make judgments all the time.  So do judges.  And politicians.  And everyone else with a pulse.  What is more, moral judgments are constitutive of an examined moral life. These judgments can and must be communal as well [see what trouble the Israelites find in the desert when the community judges wrongly].

The real problem with judgment, then, isn’t the judgment itself, but how it is manifested.   In other words, the real problem, it seems (at least biblically speaking – and that’s rather important!) is when our judgments begin to affect the way we treat others.

To put it more plainly: to disapprove of a decision made by another and articulate this in the public or private square appears to me to be the root of civilization.  Being a Christian, however, obligates me to treat with charity, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness all those I meet, especially those who I have judged.

The real danger of judgment, then, appears to be the effect that it has on my own soul: the natural inclination to push others with whom I disagree outside the “camp” as it were.

In fact, to live a life rooted in the Gospel actually pushes us past and through judgment: the Good News is nothing so banal as “hate the sin, love the sinner,” but rather something more explosive: “love your neighbor as yourself.”

And this brings me back to the above-quoted portion of Isaiah 49: as the Lord calls to set prisoners free and for those in darkness to show themselves, we are not called to consider why one or another is a prisoner, or why this one or that one had lived in darkness.  No: the Lord is much more concerned with the day of salvation than with what put us in this mess in the first place.

Human to judge, divine to forgive.

It’s a good thing that Jesus is both, isn’t it?

A Late Night in Ireland – Strangers, Songs, and Something Greater

Inis Mor Pub

By Javier Soegaard

Inis Mór* is the largest of the three islands in Galway Bay called the Aran Islands. The islands are famous for their sweaters, a naturally formed rectangular pool, and for being just far enough out of the way.

I ventured to Ireland in the summer of 2012 on something of a spiritual adventure / college football pilgrimage (the two go hand in hand I promise…), eventually taking a ferry to Inis Mór for a day and a half. Wisely and unsurprisingly I made sure to book my room at a hostel with a pub (or was it a pub with a hostel?). After a long day of getting lost on hills and getting lost in prayer, I knew a Guinness would be a welcome comfort, so I headed back to my lodgings.

As travelers and pilgrims are wont to do, I made friendly with my hostel bunkmate, an Italian 20-something named Mateo. Between his forming English, my Spanish, and our mutual love for soccer we were able to have quite an enjoyable evening of conversation.

As later hours approached, revelation came bounding through the door in the form 10 boisterous Irish women, all of various ages. Instruments and music books in hand, they immediately asked the pub manager, “Ya mind if we have a bit of a session? We’re not terrible.” With the smallest, but surest of nods he went back to his business of minding to the wonderful balance of strangers and locals. Continue reading A Late Night in Ireland – Strangers, Songs, and Something Greater

Happy Friday: 10 Links Worth Clicking, 3rd Week of Lent Edition

It’s warming up here in Denver, and we should be seeing highs in the 40s, 50s, and 60s through the next week! Is there anything full of hope quite like the sun after cool days and record snowfall? I’m excited for some snow to melt and to get back into a walking routine with my newborn daughter. What are you looking forward to this weekend?

Here’s some links from the last week or so that you may enjoy:

1. A lesson from the Transfiguration: to step out of our ordinary business when we pray (Fr. Barron’s Lent Reflections)

2. Lots to unpack here, but what struck me most: “86% of non-Christians do not even have a Christian acquaintance.” Whoa. (National Catholic Register)

3. A married couple will be canonized together for the first time! (Catholic News Agency)

4. Speaking of remarkable couples, a new DVD series about marriage (Augustine Institute)

5. National Catholic Journals Unite: “Capital Punishment Must End” (America Magazine)

6. 95% of Catholics who attend Mass weekly like the pope! (Pew Research)

7. This novena to St. Joseph begins March 10th for all husbands, fathers, and families; for those who are looking for work; and those who are nearing death (PrayMoreNovenas.com)

8. The pope’s reminder to love and serve the seniors among us (Catholic News Service)

9. This tweet:

10. Highly recommend this upcoming retreat on the Christian Meaning of Suffering in Denver (Endow)

Quote of the Day: Bernardin on the Dark Valley


Something upon which we can chew while snowbound:

As Christians, if we are to love as Jesus loved, we must first come to terms with suffering. Like Jesus, simply cannot be cool and detached from our fellow human beings. Our years of living as Christians will be years of suffering for and with other people. Like Jesus, we will love others only if we walk with them in the valley of darkness – the dark valley of sickness, the dark valley of moral dilemmas, the dark valley of oppressive structures and diminished rights.

Joseph Cardinal Berardin, The Gift of Peace, p. 49


Feminist Catholic and 50 Shades: A Review

By Ellen Romer


I read 50 Shades of Grey right after my first year of grad school. I felt intellectually exhausted and wanted something lazy to read as I headed into summer. I tore through the three books in maybe a week. It was garbage. Delightfully vapid garbage. I will state here that they are poorly written books and leave it at that. However, this isn’t the first smutty romance novel to be written (terribly). But the amount of attention it has garnered, especially since it has been made into a film, creates a huge audience absorbing the themes. Dakota Johnson, who starred in the film, even hosted Saturday Night Live this past weekend with a plethora of awkward sexual jokes. With so much attention, these themes require a response. I have seen a lot of feminist critiques and a lot of Catholic ones, so here are just a couple of my (hopefully) integrated responses as both a Catholic and a feminist.

CONSENT CONSENT CONSENT Three times in bold ought to do it, right? It cannot be stated enough that consent is important – and intricate. This is where traditionalists and stronger liberals seem to agree – that consent issues undermine human dignity. Consent plays a strong and important role in any relationship and forms the basis for how real mutuality acts in a relationship. There are many shades of consent – not because sometimes it isn’t clear but because it is an ongoing part of a relationship. There is never just a one time yes to anything. The pressure put on Ana in the books from Christian from his badgering and his gifts and his back and forth with his own emotional struggles manipulates her consent. Neither of these characters exercises the patience and honesty to respect their own limitations let alone the limitations of the other. This is where lust becomes a problem – when it overrides the emotional and spiritual needs of the people in the relationship. Consent is always an ongoing conversation, whether it’s deciding what to watch on television or expressing concern mid-coitus. Limiting consent to ‘yes’ or ‘no’ ignores the complexity of human relationships and the stages in which persons grow in relationship. Putting pressure on another’s person’s consent makes it about that person and what they want without much consideration of the other.

Continue reading Feminist Catholic and 50 Shades: A Review

The Role of the Catholic Biblical Scholar: An Ongoing Consideration

by Patrick Angiolillo

As one semester comes to a close and another opens its doors, students and teachers alike are gearing up for their continued quest for knowledge. With all the buzz of applications, papers, and conferences, it is not difficult for me, a Masters student, to lose opportunities to reflect on what exactly it is I and my fellow students—especially we students of religion or theology or divinity—are doing when we engage new semester with new texts and new questions.

I have come to no deep conclusions, no profound realizations about this process, this career, even. On one level—quite superficially, perhaps—we are engaging in historical investigations. Myself, especially, as a student of biblical studies, or the even more obscure Second Temple Judaism, am easily claimed as one chiefly concerned with the production, reception, and interpretation of ancient texts. As are my closest colleagues, although some perhaps prefer the dirtier side of things, digging through archaeological remains in order to answer sometimes the same but often quite different questions of our shared historical investigation.

But on a deeper level, I often wonder what it is we are doing, for ourselves or for our churches, or our communities. Perhaps some of my friends in ethics have more practical answers, as ethics—or at least my impression of it—is principally concerned with, well, generating an ethic, a code, an understanding of things such that we can prescribe and proscribe with the effect of bringing about the good (or The Good). Maybe that is a simplistic or stuffy, dated impression of ethics, but it nonetheless implies the fundamental practicality of the discipline. Those friends engaged in studies of divinity, too, have a practical edge over me. Training for CPE or learning the essentials of pastoral care, as well as engaging in broad theological study, have wide ranging applicability and very practical use. Helping a parishioner struggle through the death of a loved one, or helping a student understand an explanation of the Trinity are, for instance, beautiful expressions of the practical dimension of these disciplines.

But then there is the biblical scholar. Continue reading The Role of the Catholic Biblical Scholar: An Ongoing Consideration