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Holy Week

It may be a quiet time around these parts, in an effort to really enter into the events of the week. But head over here for some notes about the Cross and suffering after my recent parish missions:
The Cross: Absurdity or Power?

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My thoughts on the Synod

There has been much ink spilled — good and bad, astute and sloppy — on the Synod these days.  Part of me feels like we’re back in 1963 and relying on Xavier Rynne to tell us what the Church teaches. But I don’t remember 1963, so I can’t feel like that.  And with modern technology and the speed of communication, it’s Xavier Rynne on steroids.

I’ve spent some time over the past few days trying to read a variety of opinions from a variety of sources. I won’t share them all, but I’ll link to some of my favorites.  There are twenty more blog posts for every one of these I post. But no one can read everything.  Before I post links, I’ll tell you three things I know for sure about all of this, then I’ll add my opinion to the cacophony.  Here we go.

1. The Synod is not an official teaching body of the Church. It is a group of bishops coming together to discuss the issues that face the Church in society today.  No matter what some bishop says in a press conference or even whatever they might write in a document, they don’t have the power to change Church teaching.  Sorry.

2. This Synod is not going to produce any official document.  Even the document they’re going to publish at the end of this week is simply a working document to go into the Synod next year.  The Church is an ocean liner, not a speed boat.  Always has been.  Do you realize how long it took for us to put into words what we believe about the person of Christ?  Whatever the effect of this Synod, it isn’t going to happen overnight.

3. Everyone is going to ignore #1 and #2, and our dilemma as a Church is how to continue to function in 2014 like we did in the 15th century.  The Church has always refined Her teaching (not changed, but developed and figured out how to express the teaching of Christ adequately in limited human terms) through discussion and dispute.  It’s how we did it at Nicaea and it’s how we did it at Vatican II.  People argue.  People defend their beliefs.  People bring up points and get shot down. For Pete’s sake, St Thomas Aquinas argued with himself.  It all gets sorted out through the gift and protection of the Holy Spirit. That being said, in 2014, people don’t want to wait for the conclusion of arguments.  And in 2014, we have the ability to almost instantaneously hear every word of every argument.  I don’t think that’s a good thing.  But it looks like we have to figure out how to deal with 2014 the hard way.

My opinion (take it or leave it)… Full disclosure — my approach to some of the issues discussed by the Synod has changed in the past five years.  That may sound radical to some of you.  I don’t say my beliefs changed.  They haven’t.  I believe what the Church teaches in regards to marriage, sexuality, and family life. And I believe it with all my heart.  That being said, over the past six years I’ve worked with a lot of people.  I’ve encountered the human heart.  Fresh out of grad school, I was armed with the Catechism and the Summa and I was ready to beat Church teaching into every soul and mind.  Now I’m still armed with those treasures, but I’m ready to propose it.  Just as God does.  I’ve encountered a weak and frail humanity that needs love and care and healing.  It needs the Truth.  But it is too wounded to be beaten further.  It needs to be loved.

Does that mean we don’t preach the Truth?  No.  And one of the weaknesses of the relatio was its failure to preach the Truth and beauty of Church teaching with clarity.

Does that mean we change Church teaching to suit the needs of society?  No.  Church teaching is beautiful and wise and true.  We can’t change what Christ Himself taught.  As soon as we do, we cease to be the kingdom of heaven.

But does that mean we need to find ways to bring that Truth to the wounded people in our world?  To teach them in ways they can understand, that will not shut them down but open them up to the richness of the Word Incarnate- Who desires to love them in their brokenness?  Yes.

We are broken.  We are wounded.  All of us. And those who walk around and pretend like the human heart is understandable and that life is full of black and white situations are probably the most broken and wounded of all.

The only thing that will heal us is Truth. So how do we give that Truth?  How do we proclaim that Truth?  How do we live that Truth?

I have to admit, when I heard the Gospel yesterday, and heard the condemnation of the scribes by Jesus, I wondered how often I have been guilty of the same sin: “And he said, ‘Woe also to you scholars of the law! You impose on people burdens hard to carry, but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them.’”

All the times I have judged people- thought I knew their hearts, thought I knew the state of their souls, gossiped about their sins, judged their intentions, judged their desires and assumed the worst…  I have failed to love them in their brokenness, failed to help them carry their burdens. God, forgive me.

A quick link-up:

Reports of the Working Groups – if you read the relatio (and if you did, you’re probably in the 1%), you might want to read this — the feedback from the working groups about it.  This link wil take you directly to the three English groups and their thoughts

Having Patience for the Sausage-Making Synod – Father Barron is always a good read. Thank you for your measured response and sanity, Father.

The Great Catholic Cave-In that Wasn’t – George Weigel points out what we should all know by now – secular media usually gets it wrong

Synod report: Is there a seismic shift in Catholic approach to marriage? – Are we ignoring what Africa wants to share?

PewSpective: My Favorite Sins – a beautiful reflection from a lay woman about relatio and real, every day living

Synod of Bishops 2014: The Drama is Back – John Allen is my go-to, even though I don’t always agree with him.  but you shouldn’t just read people you always agree with…

Maronite Synod Delgate: Family Issues Facing Catholics are not all Universal – a good reminder that it’s not just all about the West

I’m sure there are several I missed — I read a lot yesterday. But there’s a start for you.

After these messages…

I promise I’m coming back.  Honestly.  I just finished a wonderful week at Franciscan University for a conference, I’m enjoying a rare weekend home with almost the entire family, and I’m about to head back to Franciscan to be on the team of presenters for another conference.

This weekend also sees the close of Father Kevin’s Indiegogo campaign.  As the campaign wraps up, we’re $2,000 short of our goal. I’m thrilled we’ve come so far, especially in the past week.  But I don’t want to give Indiegogo the 9% we have to give them if we don’t make our goal, so please consider heading over to Father’s page and possibly giving $10 towards his album.

As a special perk, for every $10 given, you receive an entry into a raffle to receive the beautiful handwritten icon of the Madonna of the Rosary by Britta Prinzivalli.  A handwritten icon … we’re not talking about a nice copy of an icon, like you’d pick up at your local religious bookstore.  We’re talking a handwritten icon.  It’s valued at $500, and you have a chance to win it for a $10 donation to Father.  Spread the word!  (you can see the icon here and you can find out more about Britta here.)

Okay, over and out.  I promise I’ll be back soon.

Still here – just blogging over there-

This blog generally gets neglected for one of two reasons: 1) there’s nothing going on to blog about or 2) there’s so much going on I don’t have time to blog.

My absence is due to the latter this time… between Bourbon Trailing, party hosting, wedding attending, and hanging out with my nieces, it’s been a busy month.

Posts to come.  Until then, check out my interview with Father Kevin McGoldrick, who is in the middle of recording his first album.  (Have you seen his Indiegogo campaign yet?  Please consider helping him out!)

If you’re wondering why a Catholic priest is recording an album, read on:

 

WHY RECORD AN ALBUM: MUSIC, BEAUTY, & LANGUAGE OF HUMANITY

Father Kevin has been busy in the studio all week, but before he headed in, I had the chance to sit down with him and figure out just why he’s doing this.

Team KMcG: Okay, Father. So the first thing that might come to people’s minds is — why? Why are you taking time out of your summer to record your own album?

Father Kevin: So, for years I’ve been playing and writing … read on here.

 

It’s live and official

Well, it’s official now.  On the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of writers, my website went live.  I finished some last touches this morning, but now it’s up for all to see.

Announcing… joanmwatson.com

I won’t tell you how long it’s been a work in progress, because I didn’t work on it like I should have, and it just took longer than it looks like it did.  It’s nothing special, but it’s there, and hopefully it’ll be updated fairly regularly.  The purpose of joanmwatson.com is to promote my writing and speaking on a more professional level.  When I go around the region to speak, people ask if I have a website/blog, and now I’ll have something slightly more edifying to give them.  I don’t think they’re particularly interested in my culinary adventures.

Don’t fear- I will still be blogging here about things as marvelous as birthdays and restaurants and other things that are on my mind.   In all honesty, since it’s easier to blog about random things like food and music, I’ll probably be around these parts more frequently than over there.  

Here goes nothing!

P.S. Don’t forget the “m” … I’m not Canadian and I don’t play the horn.

P.P.S. For better or for worse, it’s almost impossible to google around for the site, thanks to Lucy Liu. C’est la vie.

I now interrupt this usually-frivolous blog to post something actually worth thinking, talking, and writing about.

I’m in the middle of reading an intriguing and provocative article by Robert Oscar Lopez, a conservative who was raised by lesbian parents and has been courageous enough to speak the truth about his experience.  It goes without saying that he has been persecuted, labeled, ridiculed, and dismissed for what he says.  But it seems to me he has a perspective on this issue that deserves to be heard.

As I read the article, I couldn’t help but think about Pope Francis’ recent off-the-cuff remarks about children growing up with two moms or two dads.  As a catechetical leader who forms catechists, his reminder was an important one.  Who is that child sitting in front of us?  Do we know who we are teaching?  Do we know where they are coming from- their presuppositions, their experiences, their feelings?  If we don’t, we will never be true teachers.

I highly recommend Lopez’ article: Same-Sex Parenting: Child Abuse?

As you read it, the folly of those people who jumped on Francis’ remark to be an approval of same-sex parenting will become starkly evident.  Pope Francis never approved it; he reminded us that it is an issue that requires our attention, especially as it becomes more accepted.

Read Lopez, then read the National Catholic Register’s outline of what Pope Francis was actually saying.  And then pray for those of us who teach.

The Leaks, the Curia, the Americans

I posted some links in the comment section of my blog yesterday on this topic, but as more comes out I thought that I’d put them in their own post, as this story is quickly becoming “the” story of the General Congregations.  Two of the links at the end of this post are the same as the ones posted in the comment section, two are new.

What will the leaks and the seeming “reprimand” of the Americans mean for the conclave?  It’s anyone’s guess, but the following posts have interesting analysis on what went down and why.

Sure to add to the conjectures, speculations, and gossip is this morning’s news that Cardinal Dolan will continue his daily updates from Rome on SiriusXM’s Catholic Channel.  He also taped his radio show yesterday after the “silencing.”  Does this mean he’s publicly disobeying?  No – his radio show and his daily updates are not press conferences, nor are they attempts to squeeze information out of him about the General Congregations.  Dolan sees his radio show as an extension of his vocation to shepherd his people and keep them informed about the Church.  We can argue about whether or not it’s a good idea to continue to do them.  But he’s doing it.  And I think it’s telling.

Like Father Robert Barron has to said before- our story is being told.  But it’s not being told by us; it’s being told by a culture who either doesn’t know us or doesn’t like us.  That’s also true in this case.  The stories are going to be written every day.  Who is going to be directing the narrative?  Cardinal Dolan clearly wants to make sure the leadership of the Church is.

Don’t get me wrong — these conversations have to be secret.  The secrecy of the General Congregations and the Conclave are vital and sacred and are not something to be dismissed because “this is the 21st century and we have a right to know what’s happening.”  No, we really don’t.  We have a right to know who our shepherd is at the end of this.

But I do think there’s a difference between healthy secrecy and unconditional, indiscriminate secrecy.  Should we know everything that’s happening in those meetings?  Nope.  Can we know something that is happening — from someone other than Father Lombardi?  I don’t see why not.

The world is craving to know what the Church is doing.  How often does that happen?  Cardinal Dolan has decided to capitalize on that.  And I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

 

John Allen, as usual, has a great take on it (one of the few times I’ll encourage people to read the NCReporter): A Brief “Prague Spring” at the North American College

And Sister Mary Ann Walsh from the USCCB has her side of the story (she’s the director of media relations): The Papal Transition: No More Cardinal Interviews

How modern technology is affecting all of this, using Sister Mary Ann’s emails as proof: Like it Or Not, the Vatican Has Entered the Digital Age

And Father John Hollowell’s take on the leak the Curia and the Americans: The Reason the Cardinals Have Been Silenced