Reasonably Catholic: Keeping the Faith


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Centering prayer and contemplation: a tutorial

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Today, centering prayer.  Here in Connecticut, Mike Smoolca has resurrected two moribund chapters of organizations devoted to this form of quiet prayer. He is joined by Grace Padilla, a longtime practitioner of centering prayer who singlehandedly brought the practice to the Philippines, her home country. At this fractious time in our country’s and church’s history, this may be the balm we need.


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Wounded by Religion; Healed by the Sacred

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TerrlynTerrlyn Curry Avery coined the title “pastologist” to reflect her dual roles as a Presbyterian minister and psychotherapist. She works with clients of all religious denominations whose painful experiences at the hands of the church are keeping them from thriving. Rev. Avery will be leading a workshop from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Courtyard Marriott in Norwich on Sept. 15. Information can  be found at _sacredintelligence.com or by emailing info@sacredintelligence.com.

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Relatedly:

“My faith is in God, not in any church…”

So writes Sr. Eileen Dooling, executive director of Mercy By The Sea Retreat & Conference Center in Madison, CT, in this thoughtful blog post:

https://www.mercybythesea.org/blog/a-call-to-rebuild-my-church/?utm.source=Eileen+Blog+Post_Child+Abuse+and+Church.Aug2018&utm_campaign

 

 

 

 

 


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Don’t keep calm. Merton wouldn’t. Upcoming retreat will contemplate the famed monk’s writing and photography

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In this, the 50th anniversary year of Merton’s death, the archivist of the Merton Collection at Bellarmine University in Louisville, KY, Dr. Paul M. Pearson, and scholar Dr. Michael W. Higgins, of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT, will be the featured speakers at a retreat titled “Thomas Merton and the Spiritual Imagination” at Wisdom House retreat center in Litchfield, Conn., on Sept. 7 and 8.

Pearson curated an exhibit of Merton’s photographs, titled “A Hidden Wholeness: The Zen Photography of Thomas Merton,” which will be on display for the first time in New England, through early November. Merton’s advice on photography, “Stop looking and start seeing.” Pearson will speak at the exhibit’s opening event on Saturday, Sept. 8. It is free and open to the public. A book Pearson edited, Beholding Paradise: The Photographs of Thomas Merton, is forthcoming from Paulist Press.

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Merton scholar Dr. Michael W. Higgins, author of The Unquiet Monk: Thomas Merton’s Questing Faith, a copy of which will be given to each retreatant, will lead the retreat, an exploration of Merton’s literary, moral, and mystical imagination.

Asked in our interview what Merton would make of current Roman Catholic events, Higgins said he would be as “forthright and fiery” as when he sometimes found himself “on a collision course with the bishops” and others in authority.

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For information about the retreat, see wisdomhouse.org.

 

 

 

 


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Keeping the faith? Post-Pennsylvania, that’s a tough one …

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The episode began with a brief interview with a married couple, Jane and Bill, who asked that their last name not be shared. Catholic for 60-plus years, they left the church in reaction to a previous scandal and are not members of any other denomination.

Msgr. Ken Lasch is a New Jersey canon lawyer and longtime champion of church sexual abuse victims. Challenging the church has resulted in his suffering from post traumatic stress disorder as well as the friendship of many of his fellow priests. He is calling for a grand jury to be empaneled in every diocese in the country “to bring the church to its knees.” He writes at http://www.fatherlasch.com.

Deb Rose-Milavec is the executive director of FutureChurch. Having labored in the thankless fields of church reform for years, she considers the Pennsylvania report to be the fruit of many good Catholics’ hard work and “a pivotal moment” for the church. The bishops, she says, “are in so much trouble now, they cannot go on with business as usual.” The organization’s website is http://www.futurechurch.org.

The text of Pope Francis’ Monday letter in reaction to the Pennsylvania revelations:

Pope addresses latest sexual abuse claims in letter: read full text

In happier Catholic news:

Sister throws perfect pitch

Congratulations, Sister Mary Jo Sobieck! In a rough week, you gave Catholics a reason to smile!

https://www.today.com/news/nun-throws-perfect-strike-ceremonial-first-pitch-mlb-game-t135965


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Endless (in a bad way) Summer: Dylan and Merton experience the dark night of the soul

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9780802875204Hudson, Bob

Robert Hudson’s The Monk and the Record Player: Thomas Merton, Bob Dylan, and the Perilous Summer of 1966, chronicles the crises afflicting the two famously reclusive heroes of the Sixties counterculture. Merton, a Trappist monk, was in love with a young student nurse and finding inspiration for his writing in Dylan’s music, which he listened to on a record player borrowed from the Kentucky abbey where he lived. Dylan, for his part, was on the verge of a physical and emotional breakdown, caused by a combination of a (real or fictional) motorcycle wreck, drugs, and a grueling schedule of tour dates. Though the hermit and the rock star never met, they had a mutual friend in Joan Baez.

Hudson is a Dylan scholar, a member of the International Thomas Merton Society, and a books editor. He compiled The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style and edited Four Birds of Noah’s Ark: A Prayer Book from the Time of Shakespeare, by Thomas Dekker. He’s also worked with bestselling authors Philip Yancey, Walter Wangerin Jr, Leonard Sweet, and Lee Strobel.

 

 

 

 


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Pedophiles: four reasons the Church keeps making more — and other essays by a former priest

Church Chat book coverTom Smith photoFormer diocesan priest Tom Smith, author of Church Chat: Snapshots of a Changing Catholic Church, among other books, takes up the subject of Cardinal McCarrick; Pope Francis’ condemnation of the death penalty in all instances; who should be allowed to receive communion; Catholic identity; the problem with “catechism answers”; and the choice cranky Catholics have to stay or go.

Tom will be back on a future episode to talk about his daughter Karla’s suicide. In the meantime, you can learn about coping with the suicide of a loved one at karlasmithbehavioralhealth.org.

Also, Tom writes occasional  National Catholic Reporter Soul Seeing columns. Here are links to two of his most recent

https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/soul-seeing/grace-human-nature-and-my-three-homes

https://www.ncronline.org/news/spirituality/my-parents-opened-door-unmerited-gift-grace

 


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A God set adrift — by us — and wanting to be found

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Unmoored God coverpaul crowley picJesuit theologian Fr. Paul G. Crowley’s latest book, The Unmoored God: Believing in a Time of Dislocation, is a meditation on “something prior to the Church” — “the deeper habits of believing.” While “the machinery of religion rolls on,” he says, people are feeling disconnected from the holy. Crowley reminds us that Jesus, too, was just such a lost soul, and “desires to be located and found.”

Father Crowley is a professor of religious studies at Santa Clara University and the editor-in-chief of Theological Studies.


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A transgender Christian woman and a lesbian atheist: a love story

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Sharron and Brianna at WESUSharron Emmons and Brianna Johnston at WESU. Sharron’s book of photographs, Transfiguration: How Bright Is the Light, created in completion of a Wesleyan University Master of Liberal Studies degree, focuses on Brianna, who at age 50 transitioned into the woman she’d always felt herself to be inside. They both hold leadership positions at Metropolitan Community Church in Hartford, a welcoming congregation.

Here are two photos from Sharron’s book:

 

 

 


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On ‘having a soul and being true to it’– writer Blanche McCrary Boyd’s moral journey

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Blanche BoydWriter Blanche McCrary Boyd has just published Tomb of the Unknown Racist, her third novel in a trilogy; the other two books are The Revolution of Little Girls and Terminal Velocity. Reared in the segregationist South, Boyd says she faced a terrifying choice between her conscience and her family, a conflict that informs her work. All fiction is moral fiction, says the longtime Connecticut College professor, whether its author is aware of it or not, since not to take a stand is to take a stand. In our interview, as in all her writing, starting with her 1980s book of essays,  The Redneck Way of Knowledge, Boyd proves to be both funny and deep. She’s frank about, among other subjects: her recovery, through AA, from drugs and alcohol; and about overcoming her own homophobia regarding whether lesbians can be suitable mothers of sons.

Learn more about her and her work at https://www.blanchemccraryboyd.com/