Category Archives: Catholicism

Get Through the Bible Today! (Video: John Bergsma, “Bible Basics for Catholics”)

Are you a member of the Perpetual Bible in a Year Club? I am. I know several people who have read through the entire Bible. Some have even managed it in a year. About ten years ago now, I set out to join them… and like many others, I fell behind. I promised I wouldn’t give up, though, and I didn’t restart, so I am technically still trying to read the Bible in a year.

Along the way to Revelation, however, I realized that I could learn about the whole Bible without necessarily reading cover-to-cover. Thanks to a variety of excellent Bible teachers and writers, I discovered that salvation history is laid out in the Bible quite nicely, and you can get through it much more quickly than you might think. If you’re ambitious, you can do it in an hour.

Thus, I present for your edification a recording of an Ave Maria Press webinar presented by Dr. John Bergsma, author of Bible Basics for Catholics. You can read my review of Bible Basics very quickly, or take some time to read the whole book, but if you’re aiming for the middle ground and short on time, give this video a try:

And if you don’t even have that much time, my highlights follow.

Read the rest at ATX Catholic.

Taboos and Resolutions (A Response to Archbishop Chaput’s Tocqueville Lecture)

They say you shouldn’t talk about sex, politics, or religion in public. As an evangelization-minded Catholic, I live a little differently, but I do tend to stay away from politics. I just don’t like it.

These days, however, there’s no getting away from politics, even when we’d rather talk about some of those other uncomfortable things. We’re seeing shifts in worldwide political power that have worried many, from both sides of the aisle and every form of government. If there was ever a time to talk politics, it’s now. I like my politics as a side to religion, though, so that’s what catches my attention.

That mindset drew me towards a speech given by one of my favorite speakers, writers, and bishops, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia. He was invited to speak at the 2016 Tocqueville lecture at the University of Notre Dame, where I attended graduate school several years ago. If I will listen to anyone talk about politics, it’ll be him. The venue and occasion are just gravy.

"The Gospel of John reminds us that the truth, and only the truth, makes us free. We're fully human and free only when we live under the authority of the truth." —Archbishop Charles J. Chaput

Read the rest at ATX Catholic.

Catholic Calendar 2017

Whoa, hey there, December! It’s high calendar season, which means it’s time for my annual Catholic calendar post.

minicalendar

Photo by Joe Lanman at Flickr.

If you’ve already subscribed to my Catholic Calendar, you are already all set! I added the 2017 dates a little while ago. A site visitor asked. (I really do read every comment and contact form message I get, and since I’m a small-time blogger, I almost always respond.)

If you’re new or not a subscriber, then these steps are for you:

Subscribe Using Google Calendar

  1. Copy this link (don’t click on it; you don’t need to download anything): https://www.google.com/calendar/ical/mmc0sisckm9lduf8722ihsn3us%40group.calendar.google.com/public/basic.ics
  2. Log in to Google Calendar.
  3. On the left-hand side of the screen, click the small arrow to the right of “Other calendars” and choose “Add by URL.” Paste in the URL you copied in Step #1.
  4. All the U.S. Catholic holidays since 2011 should be visible now as all-day events. If you open the event, you can see the liturgical color and the rank (from the Table of Liturgical Days) in the description/notes.

Subscribe Using an iCal-friendly Calendar Application

I use Google Calendar, so that’s what I’m most familiar with. Check your calendar’s support or help feature for information about how to add an online calendar. You will need the same link from #1 above.

The data for my Google Calendar is provided as-is and without warranty by Romcal.

Import the Calendar

Just kidding; I don’t actually recommend this method. If you want to take the risk, I will let you figure it out on your own.

Print the Calendar

  1. Open the single-page, fullscreen, online version in a new tab or window.
  2. Select your preferred view. Month View is the default; this looks like a basic wall calendar that comes with preprinted holidays. Some days won’t show the whole event title because the title is just too long. There are a lot of letters in “Saturday of the Thirty-Third Week of Ordinary Time”! Agenda View gives you a text-only list.
  3. Print to PDF or actual paper, as you prefer.
  4. Alternative: Print the USCCB’s official Catholic calendar PDF. It has much more detail than my Google Calendar does, which could be better or worse for you.

This year’s liturgical notes are as follows:

  • There is no Sunday between Christmas Day and Mary, Mother of God; so the Feast of the Holy Family is the Friday after Christmas.
  • There is also no Sunday between Mary, Mother of God, and Epiphany; so the Baptism of the Lord is the first available weekday after that.
  • The Solemnity of St. Joseph is on March 20 since nothing trumps a Sunday of Lent.
  • The Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary will not observed this year. The Nativity of St. John the Baptist is in the way, and solemnities outrank memorials.
  • I display the Ascension on a Sunday, since most of the U.S. celebrates it on a Sunday. If your diocese doesn’t, you probably already knew that.

This is technically for next liturgical year, but it’s noteworthy: Christmas Day is on a Monday in 2017. That means you have two Mass obligations to fulfill between Saturday evening and Monday midday. (Saturday Vigils must be in the evening, and the last Christmas Day Mass is customarily just before lunchtime.) That’s not even 3 full days; it’s about 44 hours. The last time this happened was in 2006. So that will be interesting.

Update: Fr. Mike Schmitz posted this excellent video from Ascension Presents explaining a bit about the different kinds of feasts.

If you have any questions, leave a comment or send me an email. I’ll do my best to help.

Enjoy!

Bits and Bytes on Thriving Parishes (Review: “Great Catholic Parishes”)

Since I stopped working in ministry, I’ve been a regular parishioner, just like everyone else. Having seen things from both ends of the pew, in a sense, I remain interested in the state of American parishes and efforts to right the wrongs and fulfill our mission as Christians. So I read a lot of books about parish improvement. My most recent read in that vein is Great Catholic Parishes: How Four Essential Practices Make Them Thrive, by William E. Simon Jr. of Parish Catalyst. It’s not my favorite in this niche, but I found some gems nonetheless.

Simon begins with an interesting overview of the history of Catholicism in the U.S. I’d never really thought about it from the perspective of the parish before. In Catholic countries, Simon writes, the parish wasn’t important because the Faith was everywhere. In the New World, however, Catholics clung to their parishes as cultural, social, and religious centers. It wasn’t everywhere anymore. Considering that difference got me to thinking about what the ideal situation would be today: to have the faith “in the water,” or to have it be something you have to choose and fight for. One could make a good argument for either.

Cristo Redentor statue

Unfortunately… Read the rest at ATX Catholic.

Can We Be Catholic and American? (A Response to Archbishop Chaput’s Bishop’s Symposium Talk)

__Author’s note:_ Over at the full post, faithful reader DanC pointed out that I had my Chaput speeches mixed up! I have edited the text here and there to correct my error.

I spent a while learning how to teach adolescents in addition to my time being one, so I have thought a lot about identity formation. Facing a future with President Donald Trump is forcing many Americans to reconsider what the country really thinks, believes, and wants. If the election results demonstrate anything about our national culture, it is that we are divided, and the division is sharper than many of us realized. It even extends into our religious identities. I have seen more than one report that Catholics voted almost 50/50 for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The Catholic vote is not as easy to pin down as it once was.

So who are we as a church and as a country? Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia offered some thoughts several weeks before the election at the USCCB’s Bishop’s Symposium. He was speaking to Catholics who are involved in the political sphere, but I think his message is helpful for all of us who seek to be both Catholic and American. I offer some of his remarks here with some commentary of my own.

America’s cultural and political elites talk a lot about equality, opportunity and justice. But they behave like a privileged class with an authority based on their connections and skills.

One of the things I’ve learned from living in so many cities, states, and countries is the true meaning of culture and the power of experience. The best definition of culture I know is “how we do things around here.” In Austin, we don’t honk our car horns out of anger in stop-and-go traffic (and boy, do we have that traffic). In other cities, people honk. It’s not a matter of rudeness or nonchalance; it’s just how we do it. Before the election, many in the media wondered who would ever vote for Donald Trump. Now we know: quite a lot of people would, and did, and most of them are residents of areas far from major media’s usual concern. A Trump presidency was a possibility from the moment he received the nomination. The many who expressed disbelief may have forgotten about all the rest, and it was those voters who secured Trump’s win.

flag-pixabay

Consider the elitist attitudes we find…. Read the rest at ATX Catholic.

Your Weapons Are Scripture and Tradition (Review: “Dual Wielding”)

I’ve discovered a new kind of Catholic nerdery! I like books and learning and grammar and trivia, so I’ve long considered myself a nerd with personality. When I came back to the Church just over a decade ago, I found it only natural to become a Catholic nerd, too.

There are, however, limits to my nerdery. I don’t play Settlers of Catan, I don’t dress up in character costumes, and I don’t play video games. Nevertheless, when I heard Mike “Gomer” Gormley and Luke Who-Shall-Not-Be-Last-Named on the Catching Foxes podcast mention a book by a college friend of theirs, it piqued my interest. I watch enough fantasy movie battles to know that using two weapons at once is super cool and also super difficult. It turns out there’s a word for that: dual wielding. So when Luke and Gomer talked about “dual wielding” the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, I knew I had to investigate. Edmund Mitchell explains the steps and importance of this style of prayer in his e-book Dual Wielding: A Guide to Praying with the Catechism and Scripture.

A review of "Dual Wielding," at ATX Catholic.com

As a book, Dual Wielding does more than simply teach the method. It begins with a compelling explanation of how dual wielding can be useful for evangelization. Mitchell has the experience that so many evangelization trainers preach about—a chance encounter that leads to a discussion of life’s deeper questions, when he can share the story of Jesus—and he has it twice. That’s rare.

At the same time, you might be wondering what the Catechism is really good for….

Read the rest at ATX Catholic.

The Bible Is a Story About Jesus (Review: “Walking with God”)

I love to read. I also love Jesus. I must confess, however, that I do not always love to read about Jesus. I would wager that most Christians (and many non-Christians) know that the Bible is a book about Jesus. I would also wager that many of those same people might struggle to explain how a long list of “begats,” hundreds of detailed Levitical laws, and Joshua fighting the Battle of Jericho are about Jesus. It’s not their fault, though; they have never been taught that the Bible has a story. Just one. It is a story about Jesus. But it’s not easy to read.

Thank God for Jeff Cavins and Tim Gray. Along with several other gifted writers, they have developed The Great Adventure: a series of books and Bible studies that reveal the narrative story of Scripture. I had the opportunity to participate in a summertime study of the short version of the Bible Timeline at Emmaus Catholic Parish a number of years ago. Those eight weeks changed the way I read the Bible. It makes sense now! If you’re thinking, “But I don’t have time for eight straight weeks of homework and driving to meetings,” then I know Walking with God: A Journey Through the Bible is for you. It’s a book. You can read it at your own pace. You don’t even need to read the referenced verses in order to understand (although that will help). No more excuses.

The Bible is a story about Jesus! A review of "Walking with God," by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins, at ATX Catholic

Read the rest at ATX Catholic.

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