Sunday, August 13, 2006

Three random bulletin articles...

One of my responsibilities in my current parish assignment is to write weekly 130-word essays to fit in a small corner of the weekly bulletin. Here are some samples.

Pray for Migrants; Plead for their Lives

This month, I drove a van full of seminarians to Altar, Mexico. With us were Joanne Welter of Catholic Social Mission, and Fr. Mariano, Director of Vocations. [Our guide] explained to us the political and economic history of the US-Mexican border, and we met with would-be migrants in the town. Now, I am a traditional sort of Catholic, so I am leveraging that reputation to make a plea: we cannot spiritually afford to be passive in the face of the desperation on the border. There are Catholic initiatives based on firm Catholic teaching and thoroughgoing political realism. For more information, see: .

A Day in the Seminary

I am currently attending Mundelein Seminary, nearby Chicago, which is intensely academic. Most days have a tight routine. Everybody wakes up early and gathers for the Morning Office at 7:30 am; breakfast is at 8:00, and the first lecture begins at 8:25. We have anywhere from one to five lectures in a day, each lasting about 90 minutes, on topics such as Scripture, moral theology, spirituality, systematics, Church history, and sacraments. We celebrate the Eucharist at noon, eat lunch, and finish our lectures. Time left before the Evening Office (5:15 pm) is spent studying or (more likely) relaxing. After dinner, there are sports played in the field or special meetings and lectures. The rest of the time is for us to study, pray, work out, or socialize.

All Greek to Me: Thlipsis

Thlipsis is the word usually translated as “affliction” or “tribulation” in English Bibles. It literally means a great pressure, squeezing, or compressing (and so it is also written in ancient medicine and agriculture). In the early Church, however, thlipsis—the thlipsis of Paul and of the martyrs—takes on the meaning of holy suffering. “And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, receiving the word in great thlipsis, with joy from the holy Spirit” (1 Thes 1:11). Thlipsis is a little bit like the Catholic advise that, when you hit your thumb with a hammer, you “offer it up” to God. But thlipsis is really suffering in imitation of Jesus; to give up comfort and safety out of love for someone else. That is why, in thlipsis, pain and joy come together.

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