Sunday, October 24, 2010

Lost Moral Vocabulary - Archbishop Chaput

Repentance and renewal in the mission of catechesis

Archbishop Chaput delivered the following remarks during a tri-diocesan catechetical congress in Victoria, British Columbia on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 15 and 16, 2010.

Some of you may know the short story, “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. If you don’t, I need to spoil the ending to make my point. But I promise the story will still be worth reading.

“The Lottery” is set on a summer day in a small town in 1940s America. The people are assembling for a very old annual ritual. The ritual has something to do with imploring a good corn harvest -- but there’s no mention of any God, and no clergy anywhere in the picture.

Each person in the village lines up to draw a slip of paper from an old wooden box. Tessie Hutchinson, a young wife and mother, draws a slip with a black mark.

From that moment, the story moves quickly to its conclusion. The lottery official gives the word, and the villagers move in on Tessie. And they stone her to death.

“The Lottery” is one of the most widely read stories ever published in my country. And for good reason. It’s well told. The ending leaves you breathless. Teachers like it because it provokes sharp classroom discussions.

Or at least it used to.

A few years ago, a college writing professor, Kay Haugaard, wrote an essay about her experiences teaching “The Lottery” over a period of about two decades.

She said that in the early 1970s, students who read the story voiced shock and indignation. The tale led to vivid conversations on big topics -- the meaning of sacrifice and tradition; the dangers of group-think and blind allegiance to leaders; the demands of conscience and the consequences of cowardice.

Sometime in the mid-1990s, however, reactions began to change.

Haugaard described one classroom discussion that -- to me -- was more disturbing than the story itself. The students had nothing to say except that the story bored them. So Haugaard asked them what they thought about the villagers ritually sacrificing one of their own for the sake of the harvest.

One student, speaking in quite rational tones, argued that many cultures have traditions of human sacrifice. Another said that the stoning might have been part of “a religion of long standing,” and therefore acceptable and understandable.

An older student who worked as a nurse, also weighed in. She said that her hospital had made her take training in multicultural sensitivity. The lesson she learned was this: “If it’s a part of a person’s culture, we are taught not to judge.”

I thought of Haugaard’s experience with “The Lottery” as I got ready for this brief talk. Here’s where my thinking led me:

Our culture is doing catechesis every day. It works like water dripping on a stone, eroding people’s moral and religious sensibilities, and leaving a hole where their convictions used to be.

Haugaard’s experience teaches us that it took less than a generation for this catechesis to produce a group of young adults who were unable to take a moral stand against the ritual murder of a young woman. Not because they were cowards. But because they lost their moral vocabulary.

Haugaard’s students seemingly grew up in a culture shaped by practical atheism and moral relativism. In other words, they grew up in an environment that teaches, in many different ways, that God is irrelevant, and that good and evil, right and wrong, truth and falsehood can’t exist in any absolute sense.

This is the culture we live in, and the catechesis is on-going. But I don’t think this new kind of barbarism – because that’s what it is; a form of barbarism -- is an inevitable process.

It’s not easy to de-moralize and strip a society of its religious sense. Accomplishing the task requires two key factors: First, it takes the aggressive, organized efforts of individuals and groups committed to undermining faith and historic Christian values. Second, it takes the indifference of persons like you and me, Christian believers.

I want to focus on the second factor, because it involves us.

Christians in my country and yours -- and throughout the West, generally -- have done a terrible job of transmitting our faith to our own children and to the culture at large.

Evidence can be found anecdotally in stories like Kay Haugaard’s. We can also see it in polls showing that religious identity and affiliation are softening. More people are claiming that they’re “spiritual,” but they have no religion.

See the entire article here.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Saturday, October 9, 2010

We The People

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Christians’ Lack of Faith Prevents Cultural Renewal

Archbishop Chaput delivered an address to the annual convention of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars on 9/26/2010. If starts:


+Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Archbishop of Denver

Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, 9.26.10

Exactly 70 years ago, in 1940, Father John Courtney Murray gave a series of three
college talks. For his theme, he chose the “concept of a Christian culture.” After his
death, his Jesuit brothers fused the talks into a single essay called “The Construction of a
Christian Culture.”1 It’s a modest word change. But that title – the construction of a
Christian culture – is a good place to begin our thoughts this morning.

Most people know Murray for his work on Vatican II’s Decree on Religious Liberty. In
his 1960 book We Hold These Truths – which has never gone out of print – Murray
argued the classic Catholic case for America. Like any important thinker, his work has
friends and critics. The critics respect Murray’s character and intellect. But they also
tend to see him as a victim of his own optimism and a voice of American boosterism. I
understand why. Over the years, too many people have used Murray to justify too many
strange versions of personal conscience and the roles of Church and state.

But for me, Murray’s real genius is tucked inside his words from 1940. They’re worth
hearing again. Murray said that “a profound religious truth is at the basis of democratic
theory and practice, namely the intrinsic dignity of human nature; the spiritual freedom of
the human soul; its equality as a soul with others of its kind; and its superiority to all that
does not share its spirituality.”

He said that “the task of constructing a culture is essentially spiritual, for culture has its
home in the soul.” As a result, “all man’s cultural effort is at bottom an effort at
submission to the truth and the beauty and the good that is outside him, existing in an
ordered harmony, whose pattern he must produce within his soul by conformity with it.”
These are beautiful thoughts. They’re also true. The trouble is, they bear little likeness
to our real culture in 2010. Murray spoke at a moment when the word “gay” had more
connection to joy than to sexual identity; and when the word “truth” could be used
without ambivalence or irony. Times have changed.

Read the rest here.

Pew Poll On Religion Shows Americans Are Idiots

I don't usually pull a full quote, but there is no way to otherwise pull this from Opinionated Catholic. Take the quiz, I did.

Lot of talk on how atheists know religion better than Christians in the Pew study. I don't think that is the real story. I would expert atheists that are quite vocal to know more. Example Anti Catholics know more about the Church than Catholics do etc etc.

The problem is that a lot of American are of course Christians in name only. However the real problem is that Americans on the whole would failed this religious test so badly.

Take the quiz!!

It seems by just reading the newspaper or paying attention in life most people should have scored a 14 out 15 on this.

We have huge problems in the educational system. Both secular and religious it appears.

Kids singing Gregorian Chant - Kyrie from the Missa De Angelis

H/T: The Anchoress

Take The St Thomas Aquinas Pledge!

Take The St Thomas Aquinas Pledge!

Cardinal Mahoney of Los Angeles has recently encouraged all US Catholics to take "The St. Francis Pledge" which basically asks us to learn about and be pro-active to combat the effects of global climate change on the less fortunate and unprotected peoples of the world. This is laudable that we as Christians do what we can to preserve and protect God's creation. BUT, in light of a recent survey showing that only 55% of American Catholics understand that the Church teaches that the Eucharist is the actual body and blood of Jesus and not a symbol, I think that the American Catholics would be better served by taking a pledge with a different priority. A pledge that we as Catholics learn what the Church teaches regarding the Eucharist, the source and summit of our faith. I call this the St. Thomas Aquinas Pledge after the saint who helped the Church to better understand the Eucharist and its importance in the lives of the faithful. Please feel free to copy, paste and post this.

I as a Catholic who has agreed to accept and obey all the teachings of the Catholic Church will commit to learning all God wishes to teach me regarding the Most Blessed Sacrament, the Holy Eucharist. As an integral aspect of this pledge, I will seek to grow in my understanding of what the Eucharist is and what place it has in my spiritual life.

I hereby pledge to make Christ in the Eucharist the source and summit of my faith and to meditate on the mystery of his Body and Blood offered to me in the appearances of bread and wine.

I hereby pledge to study the history of the early Christians and the writings of the Church Fathers to gain an appreciation for the role of the Eucharist in the life and growth of Christendom.

I hereby pledge to study the lives of the saints who have made the Eucharist the center of their lives and to ask their intercession that I too will grow in Eucharistic amazement and wonder.

I hereby pledge to never receive Christ's body and blood unless I am in a state of grace meaning; I harbor no mortal sin as I approach the altar to receive Him. As a part of this pledge, I resolve to confess my sins to a priest at least once a month in order to be fully receptive to all the grace Jesus has for me.

I hereby pledge to make extra visits to my parish when possible to worship Him in adoration/exposition and/or to spend time before the Blessed Sacrament reposed in the Tabernacle.

I hereby pledge to share my understanding and love of the Eucharist with other Catholics and non-Catholics who may be interested in hearing why we wish to live Eucharistically centered lives.

I hereby pledge to live a life pleasing to God in profound gratitude for this most ineffable gift He has left His Church.

H/T Crossed the Tiber