Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Are COVID-conscious Catholics cowards? Not according to St. Thomas Aquinas, I write in America magazine

I have a new article on America magazine's website responding to arguments by Catholics who argue that the proper response to the coronavirus pandemic is to man up and stand down against public-health precautions. (Yes, there really are people who argue this, both in major Catholic publications and in social media.) In "Would St. Thomas Aquinas wear a mask to Mass?," I look at how the Angelic Doctor would correct those who say that pushing the boundaries of precautions is the only way to avoid cowering in fear. I believe he would respond with a lesson about the true nature of fortitude—the principal act of which is not aggression but rather endurance.

Monday, July 13, 2020

My spiritual daughter Clare is feeding the poor in Uganda during the pandemic--and you can help!

Meet Clare Syeunda.

I have known Clare since 2016, when a mutual friend—the sister of a Ugandan-born Chicago priest—put us in touch. At the time, I was about to graduate the University of St. Mary of the Lake as the first woman in the school's history to receive a doctorate in sacred theology. Since I'd received so much, my hope was to pay it forward by funding the university education of a woman in Uganda.

Clare has become a true spiritual daughter to me, and I am overjoyed to witness her desire to help the poorest of the poor.

After she graduated last year from Uganda Martyrs University with a bachelor's degree in development studies, Clare was interning for an aid organization and preparing to take her GRE exam for entrance into an M.A. program, when the pandemic hit.

As Uganda shut down, Clare decided that now was the time to use what she learned in college. She started an NGO, Help the Needy Neighbor, to help desperately impoverished ill, orphaned, and disabled members of her community survive during the pandemic.

In May, Clare approached local authorities to ask them who most needed assistance. They introduced her to sixteen people who were at risk of starvation if they did not receive help. These included widows, orphans, and other poor individuals who had previously received support from friends and family but were no longer receiving such assistance due to the pandemic restrictions.

I started a GoFundMe for Help the Needy Neighbor in June. Thanks to the generosity of donors, on July 4, Clare and her volunteers were able to begin making twice-monthly food distributions to the needy. Here is a video taken just yesterday, during the second distribution; you can hear Clare narrate as her volunteers deliver rice, posho (maize), and other necessities to a family that includes a delighted little boy.

I can't describe what it means to me to see Clare doing such amazing work in her community, bringing love and sustenance at time when the people of her country, like so much of the world, face great stress.

Below are photos of Clare and other volunteers for Help the Needy Neighbor making their first distribution of food, salt, and soap during the July 4 weekend. They want to keep feeding their clients through January of next year. But to do that, they need your help. Right now, they only have enough funds to last through next month's distributions. If you would like to join me in supporting Help the Needy Neighbor's mission, please visit their GoFundMe page. And whether or not you are able to support their work monetarily, I know that Clare and her volunteers would be grateful for your prayers for them and their clients. Thank you so much and God bless you.



Here you see Clare with volunteers as they make their deliveries to Help the Needy Neighbor's clients.


I love seeing how radiant Clare looks as she distributes donations to Help the Needy Neighbor's clients. She sits with them and brings them the love of Christ.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Part 2 of my critical analysis of In Sinu Jesu appears on Where Peter Is

Today Where Peter Is published part 2 of my critical analysis of In Sinu Jesu. In it, I further examine how the book came to be written, with a special focus upon the unusual circumstances under which it received approval from the censor appointed by the then-bishop of the Diocese of Meath. Parts 3 and 4 will appear tomorrow morning and Friday morning, respectively.

Where Peter Is publishes my critical analysis of In Sinu Jesu



When the popular spiritual work In Sinu Jesu was published in late 2016, I paged through it in a bookshop and thought it was a pleasant, if rather intense, apologia for Eucharistic devotion. Recently, however, a conversation with a priest friend led me to take a second look at the book of alleged private revelations given to an anonymous "Benedictine Monk."

The priest told me about some serious pastoral issues occurring in his diocese; the bishop had disciplined a few priests who were promoting spiritually harmful practices. I asked whether the priests involved were reading a particular book, and was told that they were. It was In Sinu Jesu.

I therefore decided to read the book in depth. What I found led me to conclude that a critical analysis of it was necessary so that those who might be attracted to its Eucharistic spirituality would be able to distinguish between what is true and laudable and what is erroneous and potentially dangerous.

My analysis of In Sinu Jesu will appear in four parts on Where Peter Is. Yesterday part 1 appeared; each day this week is to see a new installment until the fourth and final one appears on Friday. I pray that this analysis begins a needed theological and pastoral discussion of the work.

Monday, April 20, 2020

What is "definitive suffering"? Find out in Episode 8 of my reading course on JP2's teachings on suffering


I'm grateful to share with you a new episode of my reading course on Salvifici doloris, Pope St. John Paul II's apostolic letter on the Christian meaning of human suffering. This episode covers sections 13 and 14, where John Paul distinguishes between temporal suffering and "definitive suffering." If you have missed any episodes, they are all available via the YouTube playlist "Reading Pope John Paul II's Salvifici Doloris."

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Watch now: Episode 7 of my reading course on JP2's letter on the Christian meaning of suffering



Happy Easter! On Easter Sunday, after an absence caused in part by technical difficulties and by a health issue—I've had a low-grade fever for a week—I was finally able to record a new episode of my reading course on Salvifici doloris, Pope St. John Paul II's apostolic letter on the Christian meaning of human suffering.

This episode looks at John Paul's summation of his reflections on the Book of Job. The sections of the letter that it covers are no. 11 through no. 13. If you have missed any episodes, they are all available via the YouTube playlist "Reading Pope John Paul II's Salvifici Doloris."

Friday, April 3, 2020

Watch now: Episode 6 of my reading course on JP2's letter on the Christian meaning of suffering


In this latest episode of my reading course on Salvifici doloris, Pope St. John Paul II's apostolic letter on the Christian meaning of human suffering, I look at John Paul's reflections on the Book of Job. The sections of the letter that this video covers are nos. 9, 10, and part of 11.

My goal is to post five episodes a week, adding each of them to the "Reading Pope John Paul II's Salvifici Doloris" playlist.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

What did JP2 teach on suffering in times of pandemic? The answer's in Episode 5 of my reading course on Salvifici doloris


In Episode 5 of my online reading course on Pope St. John Paul II's Apostolic Letter Salvifici doloris, above, I discuss section 8, where the pope reflects upon times of extraordinary suffering—including times of pandemic.

My intention is to post five episodes a week, preferably each weekday. That's been a challenge this week because of bandwidth issues, but I still hope to post three more episodes between now and Saturday night.

Thanks so much to those of you who have emailed me or commented that you are enjoying this series.

If you missed previous episodes, they are all available via the YouTube playlist below. Thanks for watching, and may God bless you.