An update about the future of this blog: It will soon end. Many posts are incrementally being deleted. A handful of posts relating to Saint Augustine or Vocation Discernment will be moved to another blog. I have a bit more information from my Spring update.
My future on the internet: My internet presence will be exclusively through Augustinian Link. Main Site Link; Instagram; Facebook; Twitter. My Instagram has been my focus for the past year. The Main Site is being revived as a place to collect resources on Saint Augustine, the Augustinian Life, and Vocation related materials. I do have ideas on how to evolve the Augustinian Link internet presence in the modern multimedia age, but it will require some learning and experimenting on my part.
For the purpose of this, I tried to think of things that I wouldn’t typically find elsewhere. I could write a whole article about how important it is to celebrate the Mass with reverence, so that older casual Catholics can see your sincere devotion as a witness to the love of Christ. I am assuming that you have had decent spiritual direction to help you keep Christ as your focus, and what that entails. So my focus wavers between Spiritual, and practical.
I also desired to be as complete as possible, realizing that listed pieces of advice may be less critical. Since I wanted to dig up as many things as I could that nobody told me, I hope my readers will find some surprises.
During my immediate preparation for Ordination 5 years ago, Many priests told me to discourage gifts of Rosaries and Crucifixes. Some priests were considerate by gifting a useful Ritual Item from the Church Supply Store. However, many Catholics are understandably clueless on what sort of useful gifts to give priests, or where to find them.
So I steered people in the direction of Restaurant Gift Cards. I received a Gift Certificate to a local Church supply store from a leader in one of our parishes. I attempted to purchase useful items for priestly ministry. One person wanted to purchase a Chasuble, but relented upon discovering the average pricetag of $500+. Another person desired I have a Travel Mass kit, but was shocked to find them upwards of $600.
In 2013, I used Amazon to only purchase text books, Blu Ray movies or electronic supplies. It would not have occured to me to search Amazon for Clergy or Church supplies. In my quest to construct a Travel Mass kit, I scoured the internet, and shocked to find so much available on Amazon. It was no surprise to find Ritual Books, but to find Holy Water Sprinklers, Chasubles, Stoles, Holy Oil Stocks, and even Statues was a novelty. I realized that I could have created an Amazon wishlist like an Ordination Registry. Often, these items are third-party vendors, that are able to sell merchandise through Amazon, so you may actually be supporting small Christian business throughout the country.
When people ask me if I am going to miss the school, or my previous assignment, I wouldn’t immediately shout yes. It is not for dislike. I work in a high school. Every year is different. From year to year an entirely different group. Missing someone or something just wasn’t part of that experience.
However, there have been a number of memories, so I thought I would write in tribute. Out of respect for the privacy of my students, I will omit full names.
It took a week for the memorializing and eulogizing of infamous Playboy mag founder Hugh Heffner to be interrupted by another Entertainment mogul scandal.
On a personal note, I cannot write about Heffner unreferential to the gruesome monster lurking in my bedroom closet: The stack of decades old Playboy magazines perched out of the reach of my childish arms. As a 17 year old, trying to have some peace of mind, I demanded my dad remove his firehazard collection of Playboys from the closet in my bedroom. My childhood bedroom was the replacement to my dad’s mancave, one that was never properly transformed. When my dad agreed to let me dump every last one of them, my mom tearfully thanked me. Playboy caused me anguish, and likely caused my mom unimaginable pain as my dad listlessly kept them hidden away at home.
In 2011, I watched a 60 minutes interview, Lady Gaga & The Art of Fame. It gave me a lot to think about.
A few weeks ago, Lady Gaga posted a photo explaining her tour cancellation. Last year there was another photo from Church. Both posts have caused a lot of controversy, which I don’t intend to dissect today. I do not know Lady Gaga’s heart, and am not really a fan of her music. Although I do agree with Mark Shea’s recent response Jesus founded a Church, not a club. However, in this interview from several years ago, she did give me a lot to think about.
That is, Lady Gaga talks about “Mastering the Art of Fame.”
In our Catholic Tradition there are several phrases that are opted out of. For some, it may be illiteracy of Church Documents and Tradition. It could be a lack of articulation. It could be a recent trend in our faith that dismisses any use of jargon in favor of a more user-friendly approachability (ie people who think consubstantial is bad). It could be for an opposite demographic, in favor of strong catechetics, imagining that a revival of Tridentine era phrases, will fix everything wrong in the modern church.
I often feel that a is a lot missing with all of these approaches. I think that illiteracy with Church Documents and Tradition is a great tragedy in our contemporary Western Church, and requires more critical adult faith formation. I believe that watering down our language is as equally harmful as overbearingly beefing it up.
Recently, Sr Teresa Aletheia asked for a quote for me on the topic of Confession. I had returned from World Youth Day, and was a month behind preparing for the new school year, I could only come up with a sentence.
It is important to bear these things in mind:
- The Sacrament of Penance may be therapeutic, but it is not a counseling session.
Although I am open to give practical advice, or helpful perspective, I believe the grace of God that they receive in that Sacrament is more important than anything that I can say. I also believe that people would be happy for there to be advice or perspective that is not merely practical, but explicitly spiritual. Finally, bearing in mind, that many people don’t want or need any advice whatsoever (often this is how I feel going to the Sacrament), I merely need the grace that the Sacrament offers.
Salvador Dali’s Temptation of St Anthony
With the Golden Globes finished, and the Academy Awards around the corner, I wanted to publish this long overdue. I often find Catholic Saints film a bore. For fifth grade catechesis, maybe, but not much for inspiration in my faith. For Greater Glory & There Be Dragons pushed the Action and Intrigue. They attempted to make Saint stories suitable for Big Budget / Big Screen Cinema. In 2014, we had Biblical epics picked up by Directors who may have been atheists. The Gospel According to St Matthew, directed by atheist, marxist, homosexual Pasolini, is on the Vatican’s list of top faith films.
While many Catholics dream of big budget, suround sound, 3-D, nationally screened Saint films, I wonder what could be lost. Some saints might get their action sequences. Most saints are dealing with interior dilemmas that just cannot be communicated in the same manner as Big Budget / Big Screen Cinema. You might have to talk to directors who have dealt with smaller scale, intimate portrayals, accompanied by character development. On the one hand, you might limit the audience. On the other hand you might reach an audience (that wouldn’t waste their time on a cheesy sentimental saint film) for an intelligent, thoughtful, artfully crafted film experience around a particular saint.
When random people encounter a priest, they are often ready to open up about their entire life. I find, that when I visit different parishes to preside at Sunday Masses, there is always a person or two who will briefly tell me their life story, or want to know mine.
As I am a “young” or “cool” priest, or perhaps a priest without grey hair or a gut, somehow they find me strangely fascinating. My actual ministry is to high school students at an all boys school, and so these sorts of encounters don’t happen at all where I work. Most adolescent boys like to hear stories from their teachers. Myself included. Yet, they never ask me for my vocation story, quite like the adults or elderly people that I encounter at parishes.
Just yesterday, I literally had 4 encounters that I think could virtually sum up what all such encounters.