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Looking for the Kingdom at the Neighborhood Café

20 Mar The Neighborhood Cafe

   I have a fairly juvenile approach toward prayer. My own interpretations and perspective often turn a little ridiculous. For instance, my wife and I recently read Romans 14:17, “For the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” I thought, “man, that sounds tough.” I truly enjoy the happiness of indulging in food and drink. What if Saint Peter is more of a host waiting to show us to our reserved spot (upon condition)? Don’t  you think that we’ll be eating and drinking to our hearts’ content once through the big pearly gates up there?  

Looking for the Kingdom at the Neighborhood Café
 
  I’ve recently found my own little slice of heaven at my favorite neighborhood greasy-spoon diner, appropriately called The Neighborhood Café on Snelling Ave in St Paul. They continue to make improvements, such as offering breakfast hash that looks more homemade than what you would get out of a can, a small dinner menu with good appetizers, a great draft beer lineup that includes tasty local suds, and usually a wildly concocted special that never seems to make sense until it hits your taste buds. They have the gruff (but with a smirk) service that is essential in the greasy spoon category.

  A few weeks ago, friends and I were there for one of their first dinner offerings. As we watched the local football rivalry ensue on their single wall-mounted 17” TV, I noshed on a pulled pork Cubano sandwich. My wife enjoyed a deluxe grilled cheese complete with bacon and tomato while our friend practically inhaled the famous pot roast. Although our stomachs were stuffed we all willingly assisted in the take down of a caramel-drizzled, seared pear with ice cream in the middle. Before we walked in we knew a few of the wait staff and the owner, after we departed we knew most of the patrons as well.

  This is my heaven. This is where I find my peace, my joy. Is it reasonable to think that this experience is what eternity could be? I doubt it, because in my heart of hearts, or the heart of my stomach, I know that the evening could have included much less tasty fare and would still have been as enjoyable. The peace I find in these situations isn’t how seasoned the pork is or how perfectly proportioned the deluxe grilled cheese presents. It isn’t about the seared pears or local brews. It’s about the laughs, the jokes, and the hilarious remarks. That is what the Holy Spirit is in my juvenile world. That is the peace I seek. Although my conscious goal is to find my wife and I a delicious meal that will fill our bodies, the real seasoning I seek is seeing the Spirit in others. Smiles on faces and inside jokes with new friends is the righteousness I crave. Maybe my purgatory would be an empty Neighborhood Cafe… still sounds pretty tasty though.

– Joseph Olson

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New Articles for Terence’s Corner

21 Feb
Here at Terence’s Corner we are keeping a fresh revolving group of artcles that we find interesting in our continual search to define and rediscover our Catholic Faith.  These are helping us in our search and we thought they may touch on issues, questions, or fresh Catholic topics that you may be thinking about as well.

Have some articles you found interesting and you’d like to share them here as well? Send them over and we’d love to start up a conversation and maybe post them here too! Email us theheartofthematterblog@gmail.com

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Why I Call Myself A Gay Christian new!
by Joshua Gonnerman 

“Why would a Christian identify as gay?”

That was the question posed by many who read my previous piece for First Things, “Dan Savage Was Right.” Of course, there are many gay people who identify as Christian. But commenters were particularly confused because I am a gay man who accepts Christ’s teaching that sex is to be reserved for marriage, and that marriage is between a man and a woman.

This question has been addressed a few times, most recently by my friend Eve Tushnet. But identity questions are nuanced enough that every answer can only be to the question: Why do I identify as gay? Before I can touch on that, I will address some common objections—or rather, one objection that, on being answered, tends to shift its shape and come again.…More>>

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Dan Savage Was Right  
new!
By Joshua Gonnerman
Dan Savage spoke, and the Internet exploded.He rejected the Bible as “bullshit” in a keynote address to high-school journalists, and then described students who chose to walk away as “pansy-assed.” Since being uploaded to YouTube on April 27, the video of his speech has received over 600,000 views. In describing those who had the courage to take a stand as pansies, Savage flouted his prominent “It Gets Better” anti-bullying campaign (started in the wake of the suicides of Tyler Clementi and other gay or gay-seeming youth), as well as his less well-known stance against effeminophobia within the gay community. His hypocrisy is painfully evident.

And yet, in the rush to (rightly) condemn, conservative responses have often overlooked the fact that Savage was on to something. In the past year, commentators including Elizabeth Scalia, Melinda Selmys, and Mark Shea have written articles to present the gay community as something other than simply an enemy. Each made clear their adherence to orthodox sexual ethics, but each nonetheless received a venomous response from many of their Christian readers.…More>>

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Homosexuality: A Call to Otherness?  
new!
By Elizabeth Scalia
At this past weekend’s 65th Annual Tony Awards, the prize for “Best Revival of a Play” went to Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart about the early years of the AIDS epidemic. Upon receipt of the award, Kramer said, “To gay people everywhere, whom I love so dearly, The Normal Heart is our history. I could not have written it had not so many needlessly died. Learn from it and carry on the fight. Let them know that we are a very special people, an exceptional people, and that our day will come.”
Those of us who have lost loved ones and family members to AIDS certainly understand the note of sadness and regret. A childhood friend of mine, a boy who at age 5 was girlier than I ever thought of being—and who at even that tender age knew what it was to be rejected by a parent and regarded by his peers as an “other”—moved to San Francisco in the late 1970s, ostensibly to be a dancer; he became an early victim to what was then referred to as “the gay men’s cancer.”…More>>

There and Back Again

18 Dec

In anticipation of the upcoming release of Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of The Hobbit, I pulled my tattered copy off of the shelf. Furtively, I knocked on the door of my childhood imagination, filled with dwarves I named my kittens after, dragons I fought in the dark, and paths I forged through the Middle Earth I discovered in my forest. The door I opened was not the door I knocked upon: the door I passed through as a child was unlocked by eyes still clinging to the remnants of innocence, while now my eyes read the story of Bilbo in a new way, longing for keys engineered by the reawakening of innocence.

 The Hobbit, in the most simplistic synopsis, is the story of the small becoming big, a growth that begins with a venture. Unaccustomed to adventure, Bilbo is reluctant to leave the familiar, the understood, and the comforting; yet it is the departure from the familiar that awakens in Bilbo an innocence, caused by the vulnerable excitement of adventure. This is not the innocence of a child and tabula rasa, or blank slate, but rather, a reawakening of the possibility to be molded by change. In this awakening of innocence and change, lies the possibility of Bilbo the Took, or Bilbo the fool, to emerge. Thus, a venture into newness must be experienced within the remembrance of the familiar. “‘Where did you go to, if I may ask?’ said Thorin to Gandalf as they rode along. ‘To look ahead,’ said he. ‘And what brought you back in the nick of time?’ ‘Looking behind,’ said he.” It is this venture to the unknown with one eye looking behind that leads to greatness, to redemption.

  Change need not be feared. In this time of anticipation for Christmas, we anticipate the most emphatic reawakening of innocence, of change. God calls us to venture, leading to a reawakening of innocence. As John Henry Newman claimed, “No one among us knows for certain that he himself will persevere; yet every one among us, to give himself even a chance of success at all, must make a venture.” With the birth of our redemption, there comes a new era. An era where we, like Bilbo, can begin an adventure finding ourselves “doing and saying things altogether unexpected.” As I turned the pages of The Hobbit, my eyes did not unlock the same doors as my childhood imagination; however, my eyes did unlock the anticipation of change, of redemption, and of adventure.

The Hobbit - Zita Larson

 -Zita Larson

Run So as to Win

4 Apr

Run so as to Win - Shea Olson

The early morning is my favorite part of the day. As hard as that first step out of bed is, I’ve always been a morning person, ready to run and ready to conquer what lies before me in the next 24 hours. Dressing in my workout clothes, lacing up my running shoes, and gulping a quick glass of water, I step out into the morning air while most of the city sleeps. With the crisp winter air, the smell of fresh rain in the spring, the dew ready to evaporate in the summer heat, or the lingering smell of burned autumn leaves, each step awakens my body more and welcomes the freshness of another day.

And, here it is, another day. Another day of something, of life, of love, of the mundane, of pain, of what we make it. What will this day bring? For most, it will bring another day of work, a day of building relationship with a friend, a day of studying, a day of smiles and potentially tears, and a day of buying the liquid awakening for your body in the cup of coffee you just purchased. With the only noises on a quiet morning being the pattern of my foot hitting the pavement and my breath getting deeper, I find my heart opening to what will come before me, of what my day will be.

In the quiet of the morning, I am able to turn my focus on how I will face the day. I am married, work full-time, am part of The Heart of the Matter, am in a book club, and have friends. But most of all, I am Catholic. I love Christ and His Church. Through the vision of my love of Christ and the Church, my day will be formed. In the relationships I build, the ordinary emails answered at work, and with the clerk at the check-out line in the grocery store, I am daily called to be like Christ, to love and to humbly serve others before myself. This does not mean I do not fail or that I always do it well. But, this is what I am running toward and what I desire each day.

For each day forms a month, and months form a year, and many years (hopefully) form a life. And, at the end of this life, I will face Christ on that Judgment Day. He will look straight into my soul and know how well I loved, or did not love, and how well I served, or did not serve. And when that happens, I long for Him to tell me, “You have completed well and have finished the race and have kept the faith. I will award you the crown of righteousness, and not only to you, but to all who have longed for my appearance” (1 Timothy 4:7-8). As I approach my apartment door after my run, my day begins and I am ready for what will come.

-Shea Olson

Your Donations going towards Evangelizing Tomorrow

25 Mar

We are between our quarterly HOTM meetings and we have so much going on! Last week we kicked off our first Corporal Work of Mercy series event where we bought groceries (Chicken and Rice with Saffron, Peas, and Paprika Garlic Herb Breadsticks – Chocolate Chip Cookies), made the meals for four large families in need, prayed for the recipients, and enjoyed time getting to know the new members of our group.

We kicked of our Movie series with The Way, a great movie about the Santiago de Compostela and will be joining up with the Italian Cultural Center in Minneapolis to enjoy Caravaggio and drinks afterwards at a local establishment to be determined. Please join us if you can and bring a friend!

Next we have been doing a lot of work behind the scenes to kick off of a few new sections on our blog… you’ll be receiving fun new posts in the near future to learn what the new endeavors are all about. Think local, and think tasty… You’ll love it!

Then of course we are continuing our writing, editing, rewriting, and reediting, printing, and delivery to over 50 coffee shops/bars/bulletin boards/telephone polls/random windshields… posting to the blog, replying to comments, praying for our prayer list, so on and so on.  It get’s busy, and believe it or not it gets expensive. We love it and we will continue to do it but we’re reaching out to ask if you can help with a donation to our cause.

To give you an idea our costs:

Printing 625 issues  – $125/monthWeb Hosting – $25/yrGas – $25/monthGroceries for Service Work – $130Drinks after delivery – Depends how difficult the baristas were that day (Just kidding, they are always great)Feeding Terence to keep him on the move – $undeterminableLong story short, we have costs and they add up. Please consider helping. One time payments are great, and so are recurring payments!

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Learning the Real Deal at Anchor Fish and Chips

15 Mar
Midway through Lent and I am getting tired of tofu. During my meatless Lent, I need some kind of reason to keep going. The reason should be my desire to grow in virtue through self-denial. But what really keeps me going are fish and chips, specifically, the Anchor Fish and Chips.

How does one explain the fish and chips at the Anchor? I like the word Kathryn Hayes, one of the owners of Anchor, used: “divine.” You don’t need to bury these fish in tartar sauce; they stand alone. And the chips, they aren’t over-glorified French fries; they are the “real deal.” On top of that are other delicious dishes like the shepherd’s pie or the full whack Irish breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays. I even learn at the Anchor, for instance: there is such a thing as the perfect pour of Guinness, white vinegar is better than malt vinegar, and mushy peas aren’t just for babies.

When talking to Kathryn Hayes, I learned a few more things. Kathryn told me that the reason Luke, Jenny, and she (the three owners) focused on fish and chips is that they “were missing good fish and chips; we talked about it and decided to start a fish and chipper.” And thus a new expression came into my life: Anchor isn’t just a restaurant; it is a fish and chipper. The vision they had, grew from the idea of a food cart to the small red restaurant with a long line of eager patrons every night.

Why wait for such a simple meal? It is not just that the food is great; it is the love that the owners and employees have for the place and for their customers. Kathryn told me that she “love[s] the place and I love our employees. People are relaxed and shouting because of their comfort level . . . the big thing is: we take care of everyone who comes in, we are watching for you, caring for you.” Even while you’re waiting, you know that the staff can’t wait to seat you, bring you a pint, and fill you with the kind of fare that makes this Irish American miss the ‘old country.’

In the end, I get more than just fish and chips at the Anchor: I get the sense of community. Kathryn told me she didn’t plan all this, didn’t know the Anchor would be a hot spot, didn’t think of Lent as being its best season. But somehow, by starting a real fish and chipper, she, Luke and Jenny managed to make a place that is “humane, warm, and welcoming of everyone.” That is what is great about Anchor: it reminds Catholics and all people that we should be building a world and a Church where people are welcomed and taken care of. Amidst all the fasting, it has been the feasting on fish and chips that has taught me to say to everyone, especially at Mass, what they say at the Anchor: “You are very welcome here. Slainte!”

302 13th Avenue Northeast
Minneapolis, MN 55413
(612) 676-1300
-Terence Sweeney

Helping us Evangelize

9 Mar

We’ve been getting some comments recently that some fans of The Heart of the Matter aren’t finding our publication at their coffee shops, bar, local shooting range,  tea shop, organic grocery stores, local hang out, local news stand, NASCAR Race Track, greasy spoon diner etc. We wish we could hit all of these… and now WE CAN! With your help and participation you can go to our site, head to The Real Deal click on the pdf’s available and print them out yourself. If you have any issues with this process send an email to theheartofthematterblog@gmail.com, and we’ll get one of our trustee tech representatives to help you out in furthering your evangelization cause.

We usually print on a thicker off white card stock but you can print on whatever you would prefer. Thank you for your assistance!

Ash Wednesday: From Dust to Joy

21 Feb Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday: From Dust to Joy

On Ash Wednesday, Catholics all over the Twin Cities will receive ashes on our heads and hear this message: “you are dust and to dust you shall return.” More Catholics go to Mass on Ash Wednesday than on most Sundays or Holy Days. I have heard both Catholics and non-Catholics complain about this. Both seem to be pointing to hypocrisy and self righteousness amongst people who return once a year to this Mass. I wonder if either group understands the real mystery going to Mass on Ash Wednesday.


Ash Wednesday is, in many ways, the saddest day of the year. The message: we are sinners and we are going to die. We try to keep death far from us by medication, exercise, and products to make us look younger, yet we gather to be reminded of something everyone already knows. Not only are we reminded of our sorry state, someone smears dirt on our foreheads while telling us. The day begins 40 days of fasting, based off of Jesus’ time in the wilderness and his rejection of Satan. Is this reason we fill churches, death, fasting, and fighting Satan?


In part, this is why. We all know that something is wrong not just with the world, not just with politics, but with us, with me. On Ash Wednesday, we finally recognize the time we did not help an elderly woman because we were in a rush. We remember the times when we have thought of a human person as a means to our own sexual gratification. We apologize for ignoring the poor and helpless. Above all we repent for the pride that keeps us from loving each other and God. We do this because we are reminded we are going to die.


But the truth is that despite the sorrow of Ash Wednesday, it is still a joyful day. Why are ashes on our foreheads and skipped meals a cause for happiness? Why should the thought of death and sin leave space for hope? Because, the Church offers us the truth that Ash Wednesday does not have the final word; that God does not leave us to the dust. On this penitential day, we still look to Easter and we know that our sins have been washed away, that death has been defeated, that the alleluia of the Church will never fail.


What should we do with this hope? Offer this season to Christ by fasting, praying, and almsgiving. Come back to Church for all of Lent. If you are already a churchgoer, invite others to join you. Don’t judge the people next to you at Mass; love them. Don’t be crushed by guilt; be freed by grace. This is Lent and this is our season of joy. It may hurt at times to think of death and sin, it may be painful to turn from sin and embrace those around us, but in the end the freedom of Jesus’ love is greater than dust and sin. We at The Heart of the Matter sincerely invite you to join us in repentance and grace. For truly, “the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” We look forward to seeing you during Lent and to sharing the alleluia of Easter in 40 days.


-The Heart of the Matter

Will You be My Valentine?: What Real Love is All About

13 Feb
Love, to be real, must cost—it must hurt—it must empty us of self.  - Bl. Mother Theresa

Love, to be real, must cost—it must hurt—it must empty us of self. - Bl. Mother Theresa

In my office, I have this Blessed Mother Theresa quote taped to the wall behind my computer. If this quote had eyes, it would stare at me every day; however, I wouldn’t say that I stare at this quote every day. Sometimes, I glance up to see if this quote is still looking at me, and quickly look away, hoping it didn’t notice. This quote isn’t a “make me feel good, I’m having a bad day” quote, it’s a quote that makes me scratch my head and think—actually sometimes it’s a huge slap in the face, reminding me what I’m not doing. At first glance, this quote has the ability to agitate you, or even make you a little defensive. We also know that Blessed Mother Theresa didn’t have a tendency to sugar-coat things, and I think she would have wanted me to share her words with you as well. Considering this is the month of “love and romance,” let’s look at love from an angle that is often forgotten.

Love is “what can I do for you?” not “what are you doing for me?” We applaud President Kennedy when he addressed Americans in 1961 with this same mentality regarding our country, however when we are asked to sacrifice our own happiness for our relationships and for those that we love, all of a sudden it becomes really personal, and somewhat uncomfortable. In his Letter to the Ephesians (chapter 5, verse 25), Saint Paul asks husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the Church. It’s a mistake to breeze past that paragraph. Just like Blessed Mother Theresa’s example of emptying one’s self for love, Saint Paul suggests that husbands should do the same—Christ died for His beloved Church. I don’t know what empties us more of selfishness, other than laying your life down for someone. Let us not forget, Ladies, Saint Paul also asks wives to submit themselves to their husbands as they would to the Lord. This doesn’t mean you are controlled, but instead directs you to love with a servant’s heart; again, something Jesus did for us. He is the perfect example of love because He is love.

Because of all these things, I keep that quote taped to my wall. It reminds me that love is not chocolates, flowers or even a diamond ring. It’s not a feeling. It’s the willingness to put another before you . . . and to me, that is romance.

-Kari Elsen

Saw It and had too…

8 Feb

We thought you would understand…

For Your Enjoyment

Get out there and throw some snow!