Tag Archives: Catholic

Chapel on Campus?

Should there be a Chapel on Campus? I think so. At first I was indifferent, but when I heard that my Catholic friends were pushing for one, I knew what I was going to write for my second Journalism story. And it was just a story for a while, but it seemed that right after I submitted the piece for a grade, I realized that I would love to go to a prayer room on campus and just quiet my mind and heart for a few moments a day. It’s hard to do that in my room (tv, internet, music, etc) or really anywhere else on campus.

(When asked just to picture my thoughts and feelings, I immediately call up the fight in Deathly Hallows as Harry is trying to escape: everyone is hidden inside a thundercloud, but they’re flying so fast it’s even more chaotic than a thunderstorm.)

Anyway I got an A on my story. I revised it and sent it to the Chronicle which published it this week. You can read the (hard news) piece here.

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The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ

I heard about this newest book from Philip Pullman (Author of His Dark Materials) during a homily. The priest at the English Speaking Mission spent most of his homily talking about this new book. The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ offers a retelling of the New Testament stories with a twist: Mary gives birth to twins, one named Jesus and the other nicknamed Christ.

Of course because the Catholic Church views Philip Pullman with such disdain because he’s proud atheist, the priest didn’t view the book very highly. I think the Church feels threatened by the works of Pullman (and The Da Vinci  Code by Dan Brown) so they feel obligated to put these works down and attack them. The thing they fail to see though, is they are works of fiction. If it’s a story, should it matter that it’s anti-religion? If it’s a work of fiction, why should one get offended at the contents. Yes I am aware that there’s slander and libel offenses, but can you really use those charges once you enter the world of literature and fiction? What the reader gets out of the book can be entirely different from what the author intended. I know that’s a staple of poetry, but I think it can also be applied to fiction and even some nonfiction.

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Conflicted

I’m feeling very conflicted and upset about the Global Catholic Church. Another Sex Abuse scandal was uncovered in Germany, right about the same time I arrived. There’s been a front page article about it in the small newspaper my Uncle gets nearly every day.

As soon as I saw the scale of this, my first thought was first Boston/America, then Ireland, and Germany. Where next? I had a paranoid thought that this was a GLOBAL cover up/conspiracy and that it went straight to the top!

I hope I’m not right.

I don’t know why the first scandal Boston didn’t affect me that much. My mother was so upset that she couldn’t stay in the Catholic Church any more. She joined the Episcopalian church and is happier and more active in her parish now than she was at our Catholic parish.

But how can I stay with an organization that clearly has issues protecting children? It’s not an isolated event. It’s happened at least three times in three different countries. But the story of covering up abuse and moving offenders around remains the same. If another scandal does break (and the cynic in me thinks there will be) will the Church’s response be any different?

As a Bostonian, I saw the effects of the American scandal first hand. Attendance was down and the Archdiocese had to close numerous parishes due to financial constraints, as they had to hand over a lot of money in the settlement with the victims. I don’t know what happened in Ireland, or what will happen in Germany, but I do hope that who ever is in charge of Priest assignments wakes up.

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The Benefits of Catholic Schools

During Finals week,  I had an hour-long conversation with my friends at dinner. (When I should have been studying!) We were talking about religion mainly, as most of my friends were observing the conversation that was happening on my blog. My friends were all from a variety of religious backgrounds, and I was the only practicing Catholic at our table. I remember suggesting that sending your child to a religious school for their elementary years was immensely beneficial to the child, especially if you were raising your family in that faith. I used myself as an example because my Parents sent both myself and my brother to a parochial school a town over because the public school options were rather slim when I was 5. I suggested to my friends that what I learned in the house about morality was reinforced at school and what I learned about my faith at school was reinforced at home (and by going to Mass every week)

I didn’t realize that there are other reasons why a family might prefer a parochial education for their young children until I stumbled across an OP-ED column on the Boston Globe’s website last night/this morning.  The author, who is a freelance writer living in Cambridge MA, needs to pick schools for his children for next school year. The Cambridge School district allows parents to choose 3 elementary schools out of the dozen in the city. If the child doesn’t get into those three, then what are the parents to do? A plan B for private schools usually comes with a $20,000 a year price tag, but the parochial schools offer education for less, sometimes a fourth of the cost of regular private schools.

There have been studies that determined that students in elementary parochial schools have a leg up on public school kids. Also students from economically disadvantaged areas/families tend to excel when they are in parochial schools. The benefits seem to go beyond just the (possible) religion reinforcement.

I don’t feel that my personal experience really falls into either of the above examples. While I know going to St. Anthony’s for seven years (Kindergarten through Sixth Grade) was beneficial to my upbringing, I have trouble seeing how it was beneficial to my education. I seemed to grasp concepts quicker than my class and sat at top of my class all six years they kept track. (At the end of every year, I had the highest average) Looking back, I wasn’t very challenged at all. It was only when I tested into Boston Latin School for seventh grade that school became a (mostly fun) challenge for me.

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Conflicted over Christmas?

This comes up every year.

For one thing, how do I, as a practicing Catholic, greet people during the holiday season? I get the feeling that “Happy Holidays” sells Christmas short. So this year, I’ve been mainly wishing people a Merry Christmas, with the understanding that although they may not be celebrating the religious aspect of the holiday, odds are they’re celebrating the secular side. (Unless they are Jewish, which would mean they wouldn’t appreciate it at all.) For the most part the ‘experiment’ has gone well, but I think a few people have given pause or not wished me a Merry Christmas back. And that’s okay with me.
— I have to wonder if they have the same problems in other parts of the world. Like in the United Kingdom, specifically in England, I know they wish people a “Happy Christmas” —

Every year, I become increasingly aware of the dichotomy of Christmas. There’s the religious side as Christians everywhere are celebrating the birthday of their Savior’s birth to varying degrees of fervency. I notice that my church always feels the most packed during Christmas and Easter Masses, because of all the ‘Christmas and Easter’ Catholics come out of the woodwork.

Then there’s the secular side. Retailers want us to go into a shopping frenzy to buy gifts for EVERYONE we know. I usually am pretty broke come Christmas and most years I haven’t gotten my family anything. Sometimes I do though. This year and last year I’ve gotten my Parents and my brother clothing that they need, long sleeve shirts mostly. And I remember one year I got my mother and grandmother kitchen accessories

And I know Jesus wasn’t born on or around Decemb.er 25th. It doesn’t make sense for shepherds to be out in the fields tending to their flocks overnight in winter. I know that there was already several Pagan holidays and traditions revolving around the Winter Solstice and the Church moved the birthday to fit into those celebrations. The Yule Log, The Christmas Tree, all came from the Pagan side.

When A Charlie Brown Christmas came out during the 60s, there was already a sharp increase in commercialism and the secularization of the Holiday. In fact many of Charlie Brown’s friends are obssesded with gifts and giving Santa a long list. Charlie Brown himself feels depressed because he can’t find the true meaning of Christmas. Linus says he knows and then quotes The Gospel of Luke:

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'”

People may not believe in the religious side of Christmas, but most still believe in the common good of men (and women) and peace on earth. That is perhaps, the real meaning of Christmas.

And so, I wish you a MERRY CHRISTMAS, but also I hope you find comfort and joy and good tidings this weekend with your family and others you enjoy spending time with.

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Religion Class Part II

For Thursday’s religion class we needed to read Andrew Sullivan’s column from 2003 about leaving his Church.

There were a lot of emotions in the class, but unfortunately we only really discussed the article for about a half hour. We had 3 presentations and had to do class evaluations as well.   I was not the only one who was shocked, angry or depressed after reading the column. Mr. Sullivan was unable to reconcile being gay and going to Church after his parish asked a gay couple to leave the choir when they went to Canada to get a marriage license and had a newspaper article written about it. This couple had been members of the choir for over 25 years. It brought up the way Vatican has handled gays over the past few years. Pope John Paul II met with the man who tried to kill him, but he wouldn’t meet with openly gay Catholics.

I really sympathized with Andrew because I could feel his anger and pain. I could imagine that going  from attending mass weekly at the same parish for your whole life (Andrew says 40 years…) to being unable to enter a church because of all the anger would be very painful. I wouldn’t be able to handle not going to church because of the strong connections I’ve made.

But the biggest question that reading the column brought up for me was whether you are denying part of yourself when you sit in the pews and are gay. I think your sexuality is between you and God. Period. God knows what you do and who you like, but God loves everyone equally (and probably couldn’t care less about your love life…)  But I’m reminded of what happens with a Bishop finds out when a politician voted Pro-Choice. He’s denied Communion, asked not to participate in mass. I can only imagine what would happen if those same bishops who would deny Communion to people who voted for Pro-Choice politicians found out there were gay Catholics in their diocese.

Gay Catholics are out there. There’s an organization called Dignity USA that celebrates all LGBT Catholics. I looked at the Boston chapter and learned they worship in an Episcopalian church. They don’t receive any support or resources from the Boston Archdiocese.

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Taking a Religion Class on Your Own Faith

This semester I’m taking a class on Catholicism, which is quite interesting. It is not a theology class, but almost everyone in the class has been exposed to Christianity or Catholicism in particular. I am not the only practicing Catholic in the class. This past week we have tackled very big problems in the Church. For Tuesday we had to read the Apolistic Letter by Pope John Paul II regarding the ordination of women.

The class reaction was generally one of disbelief. Most in the class couldn’t comprehend why the Vatican would deny women the chance to become Priests. I for the most part agreed with them, but I wasn’t nearly as vocal in the class as I could have been, because I already discussed it with my professor.

If given the chance, I would want to go to the Seminary. (There’s a reason why I still serve Mass whenever I’m home – I love being on the altar) I saw the shortage of Priests in the US, and in my archdiocese and thought the ordination of women would solve the problem. But now I realize it wouldn’t make a difference. The way my professor explained it to me, the Vatican made even discussing ordination of women off-limits because they’re only seeing a priest shortage in the US. In their mission countries across the world: in Latin America, Africa,  and India, Vocations are thriving. There are already some international priests serving in the US. I have heard my grandmother complain that she can’t understand Father Martin because of his thick accent. I present to you the future of American Catholicism. In a reversal of fortune/fate, the US will become the mission country, with Priests being sent from other countries to the US to keep parishes open because there are no domestic priests to run them.

For the next class, we have to read a column by Andrew Sullivan, about being Gay and Catholic. I’ll post on Friday about that class.

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