"Without any understanding of man's deep-seated urge to self-transcend, of his very reluctance to take the hard, ascending way, and his search for some bogus liberation either below or to one side of his personality, we cannot hope to make sense of our own particular period of history or indeed of history in general, of life as it was lived in the past and as it is lived today. For this reason I propose to discuss some of the more common Grace-substitutes, into which and by means of which men and women have tried to escape from the tormenting consciousness of being merely themselves. .... human beings have felt the radical inadequacy of their personal existence, the misery of being their insulated selves and not something else, something wider, something in Wordsworthian phrase, 'far more deeply interfused'." (Aldous
Huxley, "Appendix" from The Devils of Loudun, Penguin Books, 1971, 313f.)

News

Pope endeavors to shift church culture

JPope Waving

In January, the Vatican office that oversees Catholic priests, sisters and brothers in global religious orders had a plenary session. Seven women attended as representatives of the world's women religious. That fact may not seem significant for those outside the Vatican, as sisters and nuns obviously represent a large proportion of those in religious life. But it was the first time in decades that women had been present at such a meeting, the result of a direct request to Pope Francis.
When some 900 leaders of the world's congregations of women religious met with Francis last May, they asked why they were not being invited. "Speaking about someone who is absent is not of the Gospel," the pope responded. "You must be present." Read more ...

No one wins as public discourse thins

JChurchill

It is a commonplace that our political discourse is much impoverished. Speeches are built around the sound bite designed to be quoted. The Trump administration is experimenting with letting go of speeches and communicating within the limits set by Twitter.
In such a world there is little space for more complex rhetoric, for cultural reference, for reflection on historical precedents, or for wondering. From their speeches we would not know generally what politicians read seriously and what significant cultural influences have shaped them. Their words leave no echoes. Political discourse is dominated by barracking and by answers to 'how' questions. Read more ...

Bergoglio’s red hat marked the start of the Francis era

JJorge Mario Bergoglio

Sixteen years ago today, an ailing Pope John Paul II created a record number of cardinals in the consistory of February 2001. Among them were a record number of Latin-Americans, many of whom play key roles in the current pontificate. This is the hour of the 'Class of 2001.'
Historians love to pinpoint moments that in retrospect come to be defined as turning points - thresholds beyond which history begins to look different, when one era slides into another.
Sixteen years ago today was one of those threshold moments in the life of the Catholic Church, when the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was made a cardinal by St. John Paul II. Read more ...

Marriage and Divorce. "Jesus Too Must Be Reinterpreted"

JArturoSosa

Jesuits' Superior General

Incredible but true. In the eighth chapter of "Amoris Laetitia,” the most heated and controversial, the one in which Pope Francis seems to “open up” to remarriage while the previous spouse is still alive, there is no citation at all of the words of Jesus on marriage and divorce, presented primarily in chapter 19 of the Gospel according to Matthew: «Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning Read more ...

Catholic wrap-up at the Royal Commission

By Frank Brennan

JSexual Abuse Royal Commission

Last Monday, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse commenced its three-week examination of the causes of child sexual abuse and cover up in the Catholic Church in Australia over the last 60 years. The statistics were horrifying.

Every case represented a person who claims as a child to have been abused by a person of authority in a Catholic institution — whether it be a school, a parish, an orphanage or a children's home.

Whichever way the statistics are interpreted in comparison with other institutions, they are appalling. Read more ...

Course: Poetry and Art

JPoetry and Art

Starts Tuesday 28 February
Presenter Elizabeth Guy

“This four week course explores the interface between Art and Poetry and our persistence to know God. We will be exploring some poetry that you cannot live your life without! In our conversation I will model how to unpack various poems and share knowledge and skills to enhance your experience of some of the greatest poems ever written. ... This course is for the intrepid explorer of both art and poetry. Read more ... 

Course: The Catholic Church and Democratic Society I

JRobert Gascoigne

Starts Wednesday 8 March
Presenter Robert Gascoigne

This module will consider the relationships between the Catholic Church and democratic society in the modern period. Using both a historical and theological approach, it will reflect on the ways in which the Church has responded to, and influenced, political and social movements since the French revolution up to the present day, and how the development of democratic societies has affected the Church’s own life. It will have four main foci: Read more ...

Pope orders review of the new Mass translation rules

JRoman Missal

Pope Francis has ordered a review of “Liturgiam Authenticam,” the controversial decree behind the most recent translations of liturgical texts from Latin into English and other languages. The commission, established by the pope just before Christmas, is also tasked with examining what level of decentralization is desirable in the church on matters such as this.
The mixed commission includes bishops from all the continents. Significantly, Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Arthur Roche, the secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, to be its president. The English-born archbishop Read more ...

Course: The Poetry of Grace II - Francis Webb

JMichaelGriffith

Starts Tuesday 7 February

In The Poetry of Grace II  the focus will be on the renowned Australian poet Francis Webb with an appreciation of his courage and insights, inviting a deepening understanding of our inner world through creative literature and suffering.

Presenter: Michael Griffith, PhD
When: Tuesdays 7, 14, 21 and Friday 24 February, 10am – 12noon
Where: Level 5, 141 Harrington Street, Sydney
Cost: $144 per person, including notes
More information ...

Course: Film Lectio I - Creativity in 'Autumn Sonata'

JAutumn Sonata

Starts Thursday evening
2 February

In 'Autumn Sonata,' writer/director Ingmar Bergman examines the strained relationship between a mother and daughter. Eva (Liv Ullmann) has not seen her mother, Charlotte (Ingrid Bergman), a successful concert pianist, in seven years. Their meeting surfaces the tension that has its roots in the Eva’s neglected childhood relationship with her mother and her longing to be recognized and appreciated by her.
Through this film we will explore the sources of our unique creativity. How does competitiveness, envy, ... More information ...

 

‘Amoris’ argument is far from over

JCopies of Amoris Laetitia

The fact that guidelines from bishops for the pastoral application of chapter 8 of Pope Francis's 'Amoris Laetitia' present opposite interpretations on the issue of access to the sacraments for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics confirms one truth: the argument is not yet settled.
Charged debate around the implications of footnote 351 of Pope Francis’s Amoris Laetitia, the document with which he closed a three-year process involving two Synods of Bishops on the family, has been going on for almost 10 months, and there no signs it’ll wind up any time soon. Read more ...

What Thomas Merton and Muhammad Ali Had in Common

JMohammed Ali

On an afternoon in 1958, near the shopping district at Walnut and Fourth Streets in Louisville, Ky., Thomas Merton was moving about inconspicuously gathering supplies for the Abbey at Gethsemani. The monastery, established in 1848 by the Order of Trappist Cistercians, is in Nelson County, south of Louisville near Bardstown. It is where Merton lived as a Trappist monk beginning in 1941.
Merton’s autobiography “The Seven Storey Mountain,” published in 1948, and other works on interfaith dialogue, peace and nonviolence had made him an international best-selling author. Read more ...

Doctrinal chief dismisses idea of 'fraternal correction' of pope

JCardinal Gerhard Muller 2

The Catholic Church is "very far" from a situation in which the pope is in need of "fraternal correction" because he has not put the faith and church teaching in danger, said Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Interviewed Jan. 9 on the Italian all-news channel, TGCom24, Cardinal Muller said Pope Francis' document on the family, "Amoris Laetitia," was "very clear" in its teaching.
In the document, the cardinal said, Pope Francis asks priests "to discern the situation of these persons living in an irregular union -- Read more ...

Faith, Film & 'Silence'

An Interview with Martin Scorsese

JMartin Scorsese

On December 23, Paramount will release Silence, Martin Scorsese’s long-awaited film about the persecution of Christians in 17th-century Japan, based on the 1966 novel by Shusaku Endo. One of the last century’s most celebrated Japanese novelists, Endo has been called “the Japanese Graham Greene.” Greene himself praised Silence as “one of the finest novels of our time;” John Updike judged it “somber, delicate, and startlingly empathetic;” and Robert Coles, writing in Commonweal after Endo’s death in 1996, called it “a major witness to Christian introspection.” Read more ...

2017 Aquinas Academy Course List

JStudy Group

Aquinas Academy has organised a terrific range of course for 2017, including many offered for the first time but with some old favourites as well. You can explore everything from relationships to poetry, from film to politics to writing your life. Come explore, learn and grow. See the 2017 Course List by clicking on the following link.

Read more ...

Conscience, hope and the double bind

Michael Whelan SM

JMichaelWhelan

One of the most wonderful gifts one human being can give another is the sense of realistic possibility. The presence of faith, hope and love tends to do this for us – especially when we are young and vulnerable. When others – typically parents – communicate faith in us, hope for us and love no matter what, it can awaken a realistic sense of our own dignity and worth and allow us to engage the world with some confidence and honesty. It tends to engender in us a life-giving sense of possibility, preparing us for adulthood ...

Read more ...

Absence of meaning has consequences

JArchbishop Welby

Archbishop Welby

There is a need for deep repentance and a change in direction on the part of all those who control the resources of the planet, argues the archbishop of Canterbury. Discontent is growing in western democracies as evidenced by Brexit, the election of Donald Trump and the rise of populism. Dr Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury and primate of the Anglican communion (1) shares his views with La CroixRead more ...

Pope Francis, Cardinal Pell and the Grand Inquisitor

Michael Whelan SM

JGrand Inquisitor

I refer to the report by Dan Hitchens in London’s Catholic Herald, 29 November 2016 (Link here to Article) . Hitchens reports on a talk given by Cardinal Pell in London on St Damien of Molokai as part of a series of talks for the Year of Mercy. It all sounds terribly familiar. Cardinal Pell needs to be challenged as a mischief-maker.

Read more ...

No Place for Self-Pity, No Room for Fear

Toni Morrison on the Artist’s Task in Troubled Times

JToni Morrison

“Only an artist can tell ... what it is like for anyone who gets to this planet to survive it,” James Baldwin asserted in contemplating how the artist’s struggle illuminates the common human struggle. “War and chaos have plagued the world for quite a long time,” wrote a forgotten defender of E.E. Cummings and the artist’s duty to challenge the status quo, “but each epoch creates its own special pulse-beat for the artists to interpret.” Often, the pulse-beats of chaos that feel most unsurvivable are those which artists must most urgently interpret in order for us to indeed survive. Read more ...

This Lonesome Place

Flannery O'Connor on race and religion in the unreconstructed South.

JFlannery OConnor at Home

The two niggers, a man and a woman, cutting across the field are looking for a little moonshine when they spot the white boy, Francis Marion Tarwater—the teen-age antihero of Flannery O’Connor’s startling second novel, “The Violent Bear It Away”—who is digging a grave for his great-uncle Mason. Mason, a self-titled prophet who spent his life denouncing the world for having forsaken its Saviour, believed that Tarwater might have the calling, too, but the boy is not feeling his religion right now, standing in the dirt, just this side of death. O’Connor writes: Read more ...