Monday, March 30, 2009

Wednesday, 30 March

A few nice things happened today: I started the day by giving a presentation to the faculty at Chaminade College Prep, a boys' high school in West County, run by the Marianists. A friend from my days in New Orleans is now a campus minister there, so he invited me to talk with them for a couple of hours. When I got back to SLU this afternoon, I had an email waiting for me, offering me a place in the doctoral program in Syracuse University's Religion Department, with an offer of four years of funding. Very exciting, and a huge relief from wondering what kind of jobs I might be able to find in Syracuse if I had not gotten into the program. Wheeee!

Here's a snippet from the talk I gave this morning, which was basically about "the two halves of life" -- what kind of manhood we are forming students into in a school like Chaminade, and what kind of adulthood are those of us further down the road aspiring to? I may include a few samples for the next few entries...

We love the packaging of religion, often, much more than we love the contents, because again, packaging gives us boundaries. We have for too long thought of “Catholic identity” as “what the Catholics do that the Protestants don’t do,” making relatively peripheral aspects of the tradition into the highlights: eating fish on Fridays in Lent, saying the rosary, doing “Mary stuff." In Matthew’s gospel, that’s what Jesus would call “straining out the gnat and swallowing the camel” – and if you think I just said those things don’t matter, remember that Jesus uses that saying to mean to focus on the big stuff without neglecting the rest. I don’t mean that Mary doesn’t matter, rosaries don’t matter, fish on Fridays don’t matter – those are the practices, the rituals, the symbols, that are the stuff of our culture as Catholics – but that they had better fit in to the larger scheme of the coming of the reign of God rather than replacing it. What is the real heart of Catholic identity is, in large part, the same as the heart of Protestant identity (I hope) – the overwhelming grace of God manifest in Jesus Christ, which calls us to forgiveness of enemies, hospitality toward the outsider, nonviolence, respect for the dignity of human life - not just innocent human life, which is fairly easy, but GUILTY human life too (if you don't like that so much, read today's gospel - the woman caught in adultery). Does anyone seriously doubt that any of that is right at the heart of the gospel? If we know anything about Jesus, it’s that he was nonviolent, but how many of our parishes lead training sessions or offer speakers on nonviolence? How many of those same parishes fry fish on Fridays in Lent? (*Note: as I was going to the high school this morning, I missed my turn and had to go through the parking lot of the church next door. Guess what the big sign out front was -- FISH FRY Fridays 4-7pm! Arg.*)


Anonymous said...

Congrats on the great offer from Syracuse. What an honor for you and a fantastic catch for the Religion Dept at Syracuse. We look forward to visiting :)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your acceptance to SU Brother Patrick! I've gotten to know Mike, Ronny and Bill and look forward to meeting you. I hope you enjoy college sports, because SU has a fine tradition and we are hoping for good things to come next year. The weather is not like Louisiana, but I think you will adapt (if you could survive the extreme climate in Haiti, I'm sure you'll be able to handle our extreme winters here - I think we had close to 150 inches of snow this past winter, more than any city in North America with population over 100,000).
Rich R.