Guidelines for the long haul — revisited

Twenty-five years ago, I wrote a column entitled “Guidelines for the Long Haul.” Revisiting it recently, I was encouraged that my principles haven’t swayed during the past quarter-century, only taken on more nuance. I still recommend those same commandments, nostalgically revisited, somewhat redacted, but fully re-endorsed:

    Archbishop says people returning to confession because of Pope

    VATICAN CITY - The head of the Vatican office promoting new evangelization said that while he does not like the terms "Francis effect" or "Francis bump," it is true that "Pope Francis has touched the hearts and minds of many people."

      God is love, God is light

      Pentecost Sunday (Year C) May 19 (Acts 2:1-1; Psalm 104; 1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13; John 20:19-23)

      What actually happened at Pentecost? What would a video recorder have registered? The issue is clouded by the fact that we have two accounts in the New Testament and they are very different. The descent of the Spirit in Acts is rather noisy and flashy, and it results immediately in public proclamation of Jesus by the assembled disciples. The giving of the Spirit in John was a quiet, intimate affair in the upper room. Jesus bestowed the Spirit personally on His followers, but there was no record of an immediate public ministry.

        God is love, God is light

        Pentecost Sunday (Year C) May 19 (Acts 2:1-1; Psalm 104; 1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13; John 20:19-23)

        What actually happened at Pentecost? What would a video recorder have registered? The issue is clouded by the fact that we have two accounts in the New Testament and they are very different. The descent of the Spirit in Acts is rather noisy and flashy, and it results immediately in public proclamation of Jesus by the assembled disciples. The giving of the Spirit in John was a quiet, intimate affair in the upper room. Jesus bestowed the Spirit personally on His followers, but there was no record of an immediate public ministry.

          Stone jars and softer containers

          In his novel A Month of Sundays, John Updike presents us with a character, a lapsed vicar, who, though struggling himself with faith, is extremely critical of his young assistant whose faith and theology he judges to be fluffy and lightweight. He describes his young assistant this way:

            Pope tells sisters the Church needs them, they need the Church

            VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis told 800 superiors of women's orders from around the world that the Catholic Church needs religious women and that religious women need to be in harmony with the faith and teachings of the Church.

              Pope celebrates diversity of popular piety, unity of church

              VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis celebrated popular piety as a means of transmitting the faith and cultivating it in ordinary Catholics but said such piety must be practiced in communion with the hierarchy in order to maintain the church's unity.

                Mary is a mother who helps Christians grow, Pope says at rosary

                ROME - Mary is a mother who helps Christians grow, face the difficulties of life and use their freedom to make lasting commitments, Pope Francis said.

                  Pope Francis welcomes Benedict back to Vatican

                  VATICAN CITY - For the first time in history, the Vatican is home to a pope and a retired pope.

                    There remains much to be done

                    Ascension of the Lord (Year C) May 12 (Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 47; Hebrews 9:24-28; 10:19-23; Luke 24:46-53)

                    Just where did Jesus go when He ascended? In a medieval artistic rendering of the Ascension, Jesus’ feet dangle from under a cloud as the rest of His body disappeared. This definitely represents a literal way of reading the text as well as a spatial understanding of the cosmos. God is ‘“up there” somewhere, and when we die we go either “up there” or “down below’” as the case may be.

                      The Christian struggle with secularity

                      We live in a highly secularized culture. Generally this draws one of three reactions from Christians struggling to live out faith in this context.