Wednesday, October 31, 2007

remember the poor

Like every human organization the Church is constantly in danger of corruption. As soon as power and wealth come to the Church, manipulation, exploitation, misuse of influence, and outright corruption are not far away.

How do we prevent corruption in the Church? The answer is clear: by focusing on the poor. The poor make the Church faithful to its vocation. When the Church is no longer a church for the poor, it loses its spiritual identity. It gets caught up in disagreements, jealousy, power games, and pettiness. Paul says, "God has composed the body so that greater dignity is given to the parts which were without it, and so that there may not be disagreements inside the body but each part may be equally concerned for all the others" (1 Corinthians 12:24-25). This is the true vision. The poor are given to the Church so that the Church as the body of Christ can be and remain a place of mutual concern, love, and peace.

Henri Nouwen Society

Sunday, October 28, 2007

let there be light

I'm not sure who was more excited -- our grandson, Alex -- or his grandparents -- as Alex, along with other 3rd graders, received a Bible from St. Anthony Park Lutheran Church this morning.

Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
Psalm 119:105

Friday, October 26, 2007

Are you smarter than a 5th grader?

Civilization depends upon the vigorous pursuit of the highest values by people who are intelligent enough to know that their values are qualified by their interests and corrupted by their prejudices.
-- Reinhold Niebuhr

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

love the church

Loving the Church often seems close to impossible. Still, we must keep reminding ourselves that all people in the Church - whether powerful or powerless, conservative or progressive, tolerant or fanatic - belong to that long line of witnesses moving through this valley of tears, singing songs of praise and thanksgiving, listening to the voice of their Lord, and eating together from the bread that keeps multiplying as it is shared. When we remember that, we may be able to say, "I love the Church, and I am glad to belong to it."

Loving the Church is our sacred duty. Without a true love for the Church, we cannot live in it in joy and peace. And without a true love for the Church, we cannot call people to it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Benedictine spirituality

As many of you know, I am an oblate of St. Benedict through Blue Cloud Abbey. Although the mainstream bookstores have many books on Benedictine spirituality, if you want to go directly to various publishers and sellers specializing in them, the following list will be helpful. It was prepared by John Bakas, novice oblate at Saint Leo Abbey, Saint Leo, Florida. Due to problems with blogging Java scripts, you may have to cut and paste the web site addresses in your browser.

Book Seller/Benedictine books from Liturgical Press, St. John's Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota

Book Seller/Benedictine books from Douai Abbey, Upper Woolhampton, Reading, Berks, RG7 5TQ, England

Book Seller/Benedictine books from Paraclete Press, Brewster, Massachusetts, USA

Book Seller/Oblate books from Paraclete Press, Brewster, Massachusetts, USA

Book Seller/Benedictine books from The Catholic Company

Book Seller/Benedictine books from Monastery Greetings

Benedictine book list from St. Paul's Benedictine Community

Benedictine book list from The Order of Celtic Benedictines

Benedictine book list from Monastery of St. Benedict, Arcadia, New South Wales, Australia

Benedictine book list at The Order of Saint Benedict web site (Item 5 at the URL below is "Expositions and Commentaries,
" which lists books published prior to 2001 and consists mainly of entries from the libraries at College of St. Scholastica, College of St. Benedict, and St. John's University).

Thursday, October 18, 2007


When I was an atheist, I thought Christianity was a dying religion. That's nonsense; it's like an explosion going off all the time.
-- Anne Rice, author of Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

spirit of a sound mind

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
-- 2 Timothy 1:7

I recently signed the following statement, joining over 11 thousand other pastors:

An Open Letter Concerning Religion and Science

Within the community of Christian believers there are areas of dispute and disagreement, including the proper way to interpret Holy Scripture. While virtually all Christians take the Bible seriously and hold it to be authoritative in matters of faith and practice, the overwhelming majority do not read the Bible literally, as they would a science textbook. Many of the beloved stories found in the Bible – the Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the ark – convey timeless truths about God, human beings, and the proper relationship between Creator and creation expressed in the only form capable of transmitting these truths from generation to generation. Religious truth is of a different order from scientific truth. Its purpose is not to convey scientific information but to transform hearts.

We the undersigned, Christian clergy from many different traditions, believe that the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science may comfortably coexist. We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests. To reject this truth or to treat it as “one theory among others” is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children. We believe that among God’s good gifts are human minds capable of critical thought and that the failure to fully employ this gift is a rejection of the will of our Creator. To argue that God’s loving plan of salvation for humanity precludes the full employment of the God-given faculty of reason is to attempt to limit God, an act of hubris. We urge school board members to preserve the integrity of the science curriculum by affirming the teaching of the theory of evolution as a core component of human knowledge. We ask that science remain science and that religion remain religion, two very different, but complementary, forms of truth.

Urge your pastor to check out the Clergy Letter Project.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Lord, may your grace go always before us and behind us:
may it make us constantly eager to do good works.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.

Monday, October 15, 2007

some good things about being poor

Why would God single out the poor for special attention over any other group? I used to wonder. What makes the poor deserving of God's concern? I received help on this issue from a writer named Monika Hellwig, who lists the following "advantages" to being poor:
  1. The poor know they are in urgent need of redemption.

  2. The poor know not only their dependence on God and on powerful people but also their interdependence with one another.

  3. The poor rest their security not on things but on people.

  4. The poor have no exaggerated sense of their own importance, and no exaggerated need of privacy.

  5. The poor expect little from competition and much from cooperation.

  6. The poor can distinguish between necessities and luxuries.

  7. The poor can wait, because they have acquired a kind of dogged patience.

  8. The fears of the poor are more realistic and less exaggerated, because they already know that one can survive great suffering and want.

  9. When the poor have the gospel preached to them, it sounds like good news and not like a threat or scolding.

  10. The poor can respond to the call of the gospel with a certain abandonment and uncomplicated totality because they have so little to lose and are ready for anything.
—Philip Yancey

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Who gets the credit?

God can do tremendous things through people who don’t care who gets the credit.
-- Rick Warren

Friday, October 12, 2007

What if we did . . .?

Read the review, if not the book -- THE YEAR OF LIVING BIBLICALLY:

One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible

By A. J. Jacobs

and then ask yourself: What would it be like if I REALLY lived like a Christian?

Where am I looking?

All of our troubles come from looking at ourselves rather than the Lord.
Saint Teresa of Avila

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

science & faith

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Rest in peace, Fr. Julius

A few weeks ago we noted the passing of Fr. Tom of Blue Cloud Abbey. Today was the funeral of another dear monk, Father Julius Armbruster.
My favorite memories of him are the talks we had outside of the Abbey while he was having a smoke -- he had many stories to tell about being one of the monks who built the Abbey. I also remember him whipping down the hallways in apparent total disregard of any impediments in his way. To me he was a very important part of the mosaic that is Blue Cloud.
You can read more about him on the Blue Cloud Abbey web site.
This picture of Fr. Julius was taken at the same time when Fr. Tom was blessing the bikers -- see my September 22 post.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

In the beginning . . .

And God said,
"Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night;
and let them be for signs
and for seasons
and for days and years, . . ."
Genesis 1:14

This picture was taken early this morning to record an unusual event --
(from the left) Saturn, Moon, Regulus, and Venus coming within about 5 degrees of each other.
For another view and more details, take a look at my other blog.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

do the right thing

Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it,
commits sin.
James 4:17

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


There is still a vision for the appointed time;
if it seems to tarry, wait for it.
-- Habakkuk 2:3

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Is our religion a sociologial approach?

A sociological approach. Of course, it seems to me that believing in Christ because Christianity "works" because it fosters personal responsibility and social cohesion is utterly irrelevant to faith. If what Jesus said is true, it would not matter if Christianity failed to "work". And there is great danger in treating faith this instrumentally. If you're not careful you end up like George W. Bush, who mistakes faith for self-help and religion for politics.
-- Andrew Sullivan

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