Tag Archives: Catholic Church

Pope Francis – There’s More Here than Politics

26 May Pope Francis Internet Memes - The Heart of the Matter
 I was struck during the events leading up to the election of Pope Francis. I got zero work done
the day the white smoke went up. I was glued to the streaming video feed from the Vatican. The
time between the white smoke and the actual announcement of exactly who was chosen to be the
new pope was almost unbearable. I was filled with so much anticipation and I just wanted to see
who it was. What was interesting for me and my friends was how much our experience contrasted
that of the recent presidential elections in our own country. We didn’t have the same sort of worry
or anxiety about who the next elected official would be, and where his ideologies would lead his us.
Our lives can change drastically depending on which civil politician is elected to office, and there is
a lot of uncertainty. It could go either way, if the wrong person is elected, it could damage this
country; and all my hope for a new beginning of the new age of prosperity, whatever, rides on the
right guy getting elected.
Pope Francis - There’s More Here than Politics
On the other hand, during these recent events in Rome, no one campaigned or tried to impress
us or dissuade us from liking his opponents. We weren’t swept up into the speculations between
the popular categories of ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative.’ To us, it didn’t matter who was elected. In my
friends who have met Christ and are changed by Him, I have found something exceptional,
something that provokes me and promises fulfillment and this is irrevocable. Images of Saint
Peter’s Square from that night come to mind. It was filled with Romans and pilgrims from across
the globe with signs that read “viva il papa”, long live the pope. It didn’t matter who would come out
those balcony doors. All those people were there and so excited and so happy to meet the new
pope, which means ‘papa.’  The words, “We have a pope” were such beautiful words to finally hear.
When Pope Benedict XVI announced he was stepping down, I was confronted with a unique
situation, and I was first confused and saddened. But it wasn’t the end of me, nor of my
religio-politcal leanings or ideologies. I was sad to see Benedict go, but I was certain the people of
the world would be guided well by the new pope. And indeed, I think we will be guided very well by
Pope Francis, I already feel an affection for him. His concrete gestures of humility and poverty, as
one of if not the most influential figure on the planet, really stick in my imagination. Its enjoyable to
watch the popular media scramble to squeeze him into one of their preconceived political
categories, “is he conservative or liberal?” Neither. He is pre-political. He proposes Christ to us;
reminds us of who loves our destiny truly. It’s not Obama and its not Romney.

– PJ Butler

In other news, Pope Francis internet Memes:

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Prudence and Superheroes

23 Jun
Prudence Mosaic - Cathedral of Saint Paul

Prudence Mosaic – Cathedral of Saint Paul

I used to teach ‘the virtues’ to children at a Catholic summer camp. I don’t think they walked away with enlightened minds devoted to my message: how to live a fully human life, but ran from the classroom with this on the forefront of their little minds instead: “I am Ironman.” My particular lesson that day was on the human virtue of Prudence as laid out by Saint Thomas Aquinas. Prudence is the ability or habit of right judgment. For 9-year-old boys—who cares? But it is little known that there are subcategories or ‘powers’ specific to the virtue. These are what caught their imagination: circumspection, foresight, and caution.

Jason Bourne has this one down—circumspection. It is the ability to look around a room, or one’s state in life, and see everything in relation to each other. Bourne can tell you where the nearest firearm is hidden outside a diner window. Foresight is the power of probabilities. It is the ability to recognize patterns and human behaviors to predict what will happen next. It is done by calculation, similar to JARVIS keeping Tony Stark from self-destruction, or by reliance on strong intuition. Caution is the power to sense danger. The cautious are sensitive to deception, disorder, and missing pieces. They can sense bad intentions and risky situations; they like risks but only the right ones.

While I taught the anxious little ones, they were surprised to find out that people could become ‘powerful.’ They thought humans are humans and God is God and that every once in a while if a human goes off-course God will swoop in with something called “grace” to either stick them back on track or give them a present for being good. Grace does play a role in our lives; without it we would cease to exist. But grace does not usually work like a spider bite or freak accident. Sometimes grace works more slowly, under the skin, through tragedy and the mundane. These kids idolized Bruce Wayne’s sense of justice and Steve Roger’s fearlessness. But at the same time they could not make the connection that with practice they could live out similar virtues.

I don’t think Saint Thomas wrote a load of a lot on the virtues because it helps us ‘believe,’ but because it is useful for a meaningful, faithful life. Prudence acts on what is at hand. It does not give us a principle to use, but it is specific to the moment of danger. The habit of prudence also connects everyday actions to the significant and makes us reach for something higher than ourselves. It changes our minds from seeing God as a watch tower to seeing him as powerful, intimate, and eager for us to think and act wisely under pressure. It seemed simple enough for kid boys to take on—they ran from the classroom karate chopping each other, which means they heard something—well done, boys.

-Laura Eusterman

The Church as Teacher: a Nuisance or a Gift?

11 Nov

Have you ever wondered, “Hey, what’s the deal, why is the Catholic Church always sticking its nose in other peoples’ business?” It seems like the Church routinely preaches about politics, capital punishment, abortion, sexuality, economics, war, immigration, the environment, heck, even movies too much. On top of that, the positions the Church takes on these topics are not “nice” or “welcoming.” They do not sound anything like the positions that Christ would hold if he were walking down Lake Street mingling with the locals now. In fact one might be shocked by what Mother Church has taught, “She said what?! To whom?!”

The Church groups these teachings, those on economics, politics, family life, labor, etc, teachings that may not appear to be “religious” or theological in nature into its social doctrine. The Church is comprised of people, any baptized Christian, and so the Church lays down base principles to inform her members of behavior that preserves the dignity of “all persons and the whole person,” (as Pope Paul VI taught) baptized or not. However, even with this mission in mind, the Church is careful not to overstep her bounds and exceeding the scope of her authority. While the teaching of the Church is binding in matters of faith and morals, the principles of her social doctrine are not binding. The Church understands that people of goodwill can disagree about particular policy issues that do not violate the human dignity of individuals in society.

A particular example of this is the note delivered by the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace regarding the restructuring of the global markets. In this note there is a call to create an international governing body to oversee the economy so as to better serve the common good and ensure an ethically accountable exchange of goods, services, and currency. In the New York Times article that reviewed the note, it immediately raised the implications for American politics and specifically the reaction Catholic politicians would have in response to this document. It is no secret that there is a stark difference in opinions over the best course of action to reinvigorate our economy but the Church submits that the actions taken not only in economics, but for all social institutions and realities, should be for the preservation and flourishing of every person and the whole person.

The Church offers these principles not solely based off the experience of the individuals within the Church: the Pope, the bishops, various councils commissioned for the purpose of investigating these subject matters, or lay people. Above all it is the Holy Spirit who guides and animates the life and teaching of the Church in today’s world.

-Eliot Huss

Is That Baby Worth Saving? A New Perspective on Abortion

7 Oct

I’ve always believed the Catholic Church’s teaching on abortion and considered myself “pro-life.” But I never really knew what that meant until I saw my little niece struggling to live in the neonatal intensive care unit as she was born with a rare condition that required urgent, immediate, and highly skilled medical care. She was two weeks early, but thank God, her organs were fully developed and she was considered “full-term.” For two weeks I watched my sister and her husband ride the waves of despair and hope of the NICU.What really struck me while I prayed and waited each day in the NICU was how precious and tiny the premature babies were. Some babies there were born 6 weeks early, some 3 months early. Many were the size of my hand. Of these little miracles, only some would survive. Yet every modern medical mind and apparatus was bent to keeping them alive, ensuring they gained weight, and assessing and reassessing their care in the twice-daily medical rounds. The difference in age between abortable “fetuses” and premature “babies” is a matter of a few weeks.

In Minnesota, abortion is restricted after 20 weeks gestation to circumstances where the mother’s life requires preservation. Twenty weeks is 5 months along. Babies are generally viable out of the womb between 23 and 27 weeks (with a greater chance to survive the older the baby is). So just a few weeks past 20, and the same baby who was legally abortable is now are taken care of in a NICU by the best and brightest physicians and nurses. It seems to me like abortion doctors supersede the role of neonatologists, the specialists in the NICU, by a mere matter of weeks. That same baby with no right to life at 20 weeks, has unlimited medical resources and every right to live, a few weeks later at 23 weeks.

Thankfully, my niece is home, healthy, and without long-term health damage after a miraculously swift recovery. For me, actually seeing very premature babies in incubators made the ugly reality of abortion that much more real: abortion really does stop a beating heart. And a heart is worth saving, regardless of whether it is beating inside or outside the womb. The Catholic Church’s teachings on life are not simply mandates from the pulpit, but are intimately connected with our lives, our families, and our children. God cares for us all, hearts inside and outside of the womb.

-Nell Alt