Tag Archives: Christian

There and Back Again: Glimpsing Heaven

by Patrick Angiolillo

Earlier in January, the story broke that the popular book, The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven,  written by Alex Malarkey and his father, is a hoax. The book, which details Alex’s journeys to and from heaven while  suffering a coma after an unfortunate car accident as a child, was all fabricated by the boy in order to garner attention. He publicly admitted to this fact in an open letter.

This story finds itself as one of the latest installments in a somewhat new (although, actually quite old) phenomenon known as “heavenly tourism.” This sub-genre of Christian literature (perhaps equally to be called a sub-culture of Christian culture) is probably not as familiar to Catholics as it is to some Protestants. But either way, it is a movement within the Christian faith in which people claim to have experienced a journey to and back from heaven in their lives. Another example than Alex Malarkey’s is  Todd Burpo’s. His is a similar story, in which Burpo experienced heaven while undergoing an emergency surgery as a young boy. The details are recounted in his co-authored book, Heaven is for Real, the veracity of which has been maintained by author and publisher.

Whether or not we believe folks today who say they have had visions, or out-of-body experiences, or other kinds of journeys to heaven is not really a doctrinal matter.  Nothing in their stories makes absolute claims on the Christian faith. We can, if we please, ignore their tales and go on professing the Creed in perfect peace…

But we are curious, aren’t we? We’d just like to know, wouldn’t we? Continue reading There and Back Again: Glimpsing Heaven

Advertisements

Je Suis Catholique: A Catholic Response to the Charlie Hebdo Attacks

by Patrick Angiolillo

In the wake of the horrifying attacks in Paris that occurred at the Charlie Hebdo headquarters on January 7, as well as those others in the ensuing days, we have seen the swift response from the world, not least of all from the people of France themselves.

Immediately following the tremendous events of that day, leaders the world over spoke out against the form of radicalized, fundamentalist religion that led the Muslim gunmen to commit their heinous act of violence. Pope Francis, along with French bishops, as well as French Imams, and hosts of political leaders from different countries have voiced their sorrow and rage in reaction to the terror attack. The hacktivist group known as Anonymous even released a video in which a speaker, hidden by a Guy Fawkes mask, declared war on radical terror organizations like Al-Qaeda. The group claims to already have shut down a French terrorist website.1

While these reactions all share a deep opposition to the acts of violence witnessed, the particular response from different figures is, understandably, quite different. The hacktivist group has already begun their campaign to shut down terror websites, just as political leaders and government agencies have already mobilized their respective responses to the attack.

Religious leaders, however, have a different kind of role in the matter. Fr. Federico Lombardi of the Vatican Press Office expressed, in a matter of hours after the attack, the pope’s—and the Church’s—opposition to this example of the radical use of religion: “Whatever may be the motivation, homicidal violence is abominable. It is never justified: the life and dignity of all must be firmly guaranteed and guarded; any instigation to hate refuted; and respect for the other cultivated.” Indeed, he added that the pope said he “joins the prayers of the suffering and wounded, and of the families of the dead.”2

A religious leader or a religious group has a different responsibility in the aftermath of crises like the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Religion itself, and, as we see today, Islam in particular, has been abused by the ideologizing forces of terror organizations like Al-Qaeda and ISIS (or ISIL). The leaders of these religio-poltical groups use religion—use God—in order to justify their twisted agendas. Pope Francis summarized the phenomenon this way: “Religious fundamentalism, even before it eliminates human beings by perpetrating horrendous killings, eliminates God himself, turning him into a mere ideological pretext.”3

What, then, is the responsibility of the world’s religions, and of world religious leaders in the wake of such attacks? How does our Catholic faith play into this puzzle? Continue reading Je Suis Catholique: A Catholic Response to the Charlie Hebdo Attacks

A Curious Incident of Ecumenism in the Night

by Patrick Angiolillo

The Lord Almighty grant us a peaceful night and a perfect end. Amen.

So beings “An Order for Compline” from the Book of Common Prayer according to the use of the Episcopal Church.

As a recently matriculated student to Yale Divinity School, I have found myself in a new place, with new friends, and among new religious traditions. At Boston College, I was never for lack of Mass, prayer, or all things Catholic. As a member of several Catholic student groups on campus, I had ample opportunity to discuss everything from the Bible to Church teaching to recent issues facing the church and her leadership. “My cup overflows,” as the Psalmist writes.

But, as with many things, life kept moving, even though I probably did not want it to. I graduated. And now I have begun my studies in Bible here at YDS.

I have already connected with the school’s Roman Catholic Fellowship group, and I have fast become a regular at the college’s Catholic Chapel, the aptly named St. Thomas More chapel. I have, in my several short weeks here, already dug my roots into the soils of New Haven.

But there has been, for me, a conspicuous lack of Catholicity. Or, perhaps more precisely, there is an abundance of catholicity, such that my Catholicism is unique.

This melting pot of Christianity at YDS has its advantages and disadvantages. I have found myself extremely at home with many new friends whose lives have been shaped by a very different forms of the Christian faith. But, equally so, I have found my comfortability stretched and tested at times, particularly with regard to liturgy.

None of this is to pass a value judgment on YDS or any of my Christian brothers and sisters. Indeed, the mission of the school and its demographic composition are not considerations of this article. What I mean to note is the beauty of this community of Christians who have come together to learn, prayer and grow as individuals and groups.

And such has been my project. I have exposed—and will continue to expose—myself to many Christian traditions, to their worship, and to their faith. Continue reading A Curious Incident of Ecumenism in the Night

The Best Thing(s) We’ve Ready All Day

The best thing we read all day was actually posted here – a terrific guest post from Sara Knutson about vocations, women and religious life.  Check it out here.

The other best thing we have read all day is a piece by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry.

The lede:

Many liberals have long suggested that it’s impossible to be a Christian and a conservative, because the love of the poor preached by Jesus Christ is incompatible with the economic and social policies promoted by conservatives. Christian conservatives, obviously, disagree. They would say that, at least on economic and social policy, Christian liberals and Christian conservatives agree about the ends — policy that promotes the common good with a preferential option for the poor — but disagree about the means. Jesus told us to love the poor. That is not at all the same thing as voting for programs that take money from one group of people to give it to another, whatever the merits.

As a Christian and a conservative, obviously I think that’s true.

Read it all here.