Ash Wednesday

posted by Mike on February 18th, 2015

“The love of God breaks through that fatal withdrawal into ourselves which is indifference.” —Pope Francis


Lent: A time of prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and projects.

Project #1: What are you giving up for Lent this year?

This year I’m keeping it simple: no coffee.

Project #2: What extra meditations are you adding to your life this season?

I’m keeping it simpler than other years, but still a bit complicated. Inspired by Rod Dreher, and with the support of my Dante book club, I’ll be reading the Purgatorio (Divine Comedy, Part II).

Assuming all of the above goes according to plan, it should be a successful Lent. For those looking for more resources, Susan Stabile always posts great stuff. I am going to fight the temptation to browse these resources when I should be reading Dante. I will especially avoid spending too much time thinking about Forty for 40: A Literary Reader for Lent.

Beginning the journey through Purgatory: Gustav Doré’s “Dante Kneeling Before Cato”

posted by Mike in Lent, Orthodoxy | on February 18th, 2015 | Permanent Link to “Ash Wednesday” | No Comments »

Discussion Series: Catholic Social Teaching

posted by Mike on July 22nd, 2012

7-9pm, five consecutive Wednesdays starting September 12, 2012. At SS. Francis & Therese Catholic Worker, 52 Mason St, Worcester, Massachusetts.

This fall, the Worcester Catholic Worker community is offering a series of weekly round-table discussions on the rich and evolving tradition of Catholic social teaching. Catholic Worker academics Michael Boover and Marc Tumeinski will give an introductory presentation.

Schedule of Presentations

  • Sept. 12: General introduction to the social teachings, their origin and themes
  • Sept. 19: Dignity and the Common Good
  • Sept. 26: Family Life, Property ownership
  • October 3: (The Feast of the Transitus) Sr. Rena Mae Gagnon of the Little Franciscans of Mary will present on St. Francis as an example of a preferential option for the poor.
  • October 10: Colonialism/Economic Development/Disarmament

For more than 120 years, Catholic popes, bishops, and Church Councils have issued documents on the social and political challenges of our time, including economic justice, nuclear disarmament, and the right relationships between individuals, communities, and their governments. But these critiques, seldom preached from the pulpit, are unknown to many Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

For example, did you know that in 1967 a papal encyclical warned about the problems of multi-nationals, free trade, and the growing divide between rich and poor? Or that way back in 1891 a pope advocated a living wage for workers?

We will look at the major themes and principles of Catholic social teaching and their expression in social movements and the lives of the saints. There will be ample time for discussion following each presentation, and of course refreshments. All are invited.

So if you are feeling discouraged by election rhetoric and the silence of many church leaders on social justice, then join us in the upstairs kitchen of 52 Mason Street as we consider life-giving concepts like the common good, solidarity, subsidiarity, and the dignity of the human person.

For updates, call 508-753-3588.

Holy Week church-hopping and other items

posted by Mike on April 23rd, 2011

The day before Holy Week began, I attended a wedding at St. Columba’s United Reformed Church in Oxford, UK. St. Columba’s is down an alley near some of the Oxford colleges. It’s a normal sort of church inside, with a vestibule and facade that make it look like an office building.

Most churches stand out. St. Columba’s is hidden. Attending church there was like going to a house mass—nobody walking past suspects you’re going to a sacred gathering.

(Best wishes to the bride and groom—your lovely wedding is an auspicious start to your lives together.)
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Installing lectors and eucharistic ministers, St. Peter’s Parish

posted by Mike on February 8th, 2011

This past Sunday, I was “installed” as a lector at St. Peter’s Parish. The ceremony consisted of a simple blessing with holy water at mass.

(Pictured: The newly-blessed lectors and eucharistic ministers of St. Peter’s.)

I lectored all through high school without an official blessing, so I’ve been poking around online to learn more about the significance of this ceremony.

Apparently there was a pre-Vatican II “minor order” for lectors, but this is not that. According to The Duties and Ministries in the Mass, I think my role is “a layperson who happens to be reading”:

101. In the absence of an instituted lector, other laypersons may be commissioned to proclaim the readings from Sacred Scripture. They should be truly suited to perform this function and should receive careful preparation, so that the faithful by listening to the readings from the sacred texts may develop in their hearts a warm and living love for Sacred Scripture.

At the same time the lectors were installed, eucharistic ministers were commissioned, which seems to be a more formal blessing from “Book of Blessings, chapter 63.”

Merry Christmas!

posted by Mike on January 7th, 2011

Enough of this pre-Christmas and post-Christmas blogging; today is Orthodox Christmas.

Last night I stopped by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Nairobi a few hours before Christmas mass, which I considered attending but was warned off from by a couple non-Amharic-speakers.


Here’s a photo of the inside I took at the urging of a member of the congregation. The painting of the three bearded men depicts the Trinity. I was told that the TV screen, though not working at present, is intended to give people a view of what’s happening in the inner sanctuary when the curtain is closed.

I love watching people showing up for Ethiopian mass, the women in white packed into cars, emerging like circus clowns turning into butterflies.
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Retreat on Christian nonviolence, Oct 29-31

posted by Mike on September 23rd, 2010

Father Charlie McCarthy is giving a retreat on Christian nonviolence at Anna Maria College in Paxton next month. I’ve been on this retreat before, and recommend it.

As a preview, you can listen to recordings of his retreat Behold the Lamb and his series Questions & Answers on Gospel Nonviolence.
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Father Bernie Gilgun’s homily, January 2, 2009

posted by Mike on January 2nd, 2009

Homily from mass at the Mustard Seed, Worcester. Memorial of Saint Basil the Great and Saint Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church.

Download the mp3 or see other formats.

Dorothy Holds Forth

posted by Mike on September 27th, 2007

This interview, by Jeff Dietrich and Susan Pollack, was originally published in the December 1971 Catholic Agitator. You may want to compare this with the portrait drawn of her in Cardinal O’Connor’s application for her sainthood.

CATHOLIC AGITATOR: I’d like first to ask you, are you an anarchist? And what does that mean to you in terms of your daily action?

DOROTHY DAY: Do you want me to go back into history? When I came from college, I was a socialist. I had joined the socialist party in Urbana Illinois and I wasn’t much thrilled by it. I joined because I had read Jack London—his essays, The Iron Heel, and his description of the London slums. I also read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. All of these made a deep impression on me. So when I was sixteen years old and in my first year of college, I joined the Socialist Party. But I found most of them “petty bourgeois.” You know the kind. They were good people, butchers and bakers and candlestick makers—mostly of German descent—very settled family people. And it was very theoretical. It had no religious connotations, none of the religious enthusiasm for the poor that you’ve got shining through a great deal of radical literature.

Then there was the IWW moving in, which was the typically American movement. Eugene Debs was a man of Alsace-Lorraine background. A religious man, he received his inspiration from reading Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. That started him off because he could have been a well-to-do bourgeois, comfortable man. But, here you have this whole American movement. The IWW has this motto: “An injury to one is an injury to all.” That appealed to me tremendously because I felt that we were all one body. I had read scripture, but I don’t think I’d ever really recognized that teaching of the “Mystical Body”—that were are all one body, we are all one.
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posted by Mike in Hagiography, Heresy, Orthodoxy | on September 27th, 2007 | Permanent Link to “Dorothy Holds Forth” | 1 Comment »

Emmanuel Charles McCarthy podcast: Questions & Answers on Gospel Nonviolence

posted by Mike on August 21st, 2007

Here’s Rev. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy’s “Questions & Answers on Gospel Nonviolence” in podcast form: podcast feed

More info at the Center for Christian Nonviolence site. (I just made a podcast feed out of the audio they’ve posted, so it will be easier for iTunes users to download the whole series.)

I just finished listening to his series Behold the Lamb, and I recommend it to you.

  1. Cleansing of The Temple
  2. What if Someone Is Going to Kill your Wife or Children?
  3. Just War/Just Revolution Theory
  4. Violence in the Old Testament
  5. Christians in the Military/Police
  6. Surely this Is a Purist Gospel?
  7. What about Hitler?
  8. Buy a Sword? Luke 22:35-38

Here’s the first part of “Questions & Answers on Gospel Nonviolence”, to whet your appetite:

Bishops start to think about maybe getting their act together

posted by Mike on November 14th, 2006

Perhaps inspired by The Onion’s “I Think We Should Start Talking About Starting A Band”, the Globe reports “Bishops call for change on Iraq policy”:

The bishops, who have consistently expressed moral concerns about the war, did not call for immediate withdrawal, saying the United States now has “moral responsibilities to help Iraqis to secure and rebuild their country.” But the bishops said the “terrible toll” in Iraqi and American lives now requires a discussion driven by “moral urgency, substantive dialogue, and new directions.”

There appears to be some sort of typo: the first sentence should begin: “The bishops, who have consistently and extremely quietly expressed moral concerns about the war . . . .”
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