Dolan and Martin and Colbert…OH MY!

From Religion News Service: I just may have to fly down to my alma mater for this one. Fordham University is sponsoring an event on Sept. 14 titled: “The Cardinal and Colbert: Humor, Joy, and the Spiritual Life.”

Now THAT could be an amazing event. Here’s a snip on each “theologian-comedian” as moderator Fr. James Martin, SJ calls them.

Today, Colbert is a married father of three, a churchgoing Catholic who sometimes teaches Sunday school at his New Jersey parish – a far cry from the right-wing blunderbuss he portrays on his popular cable show.

But even his bloviating on-screen persona manages to work Catholic riffs into the program on a regular basis. In one episode after Easter Sunday, Colbert came on looking hungover and confessed to having just ended a “Catholic bender.”

Dolan is certainly no slouch when it comes to faith, and he’s also pretty good in the humor department – especially when he is joking at his own expense, usually about his ample girth.

“As we pass Radio City and pass the Ed Sullivan Theater and pass Times Square, the greatest challenge is to pass the hot dog carts and not stop,” Dolan said after his appointment to New York.

In a similar vein, he once said: “My first pastoral letter’s gonna be a condemnation of light beer and instant mashed potatoes – I hate those two things.”

And to “60 Minutes” there was this one: “They asked me when I got here, ‘Are you Cardinals, Mets, Brewers, or Yankees?’ And I said, ‘When it comes to baseball, I think I can be pro-choice.’ ”

While Cardinal Dolan and Stephen Colbert are the stars here, don’t count out our buddy Fr. Jim who is known to throw a few yuks out himself.

I think this could be a huge event. And if you’re Catholic you should know that if your deadly serious all the time, then you’re probably seriously dead!

When I Feel Hated….

With the rise in the number of suicides, especially amongst gay young adults, we Catholics need to remember that our response needs to be love to all of God’s children. Too often, people respond with hate. That hate often leads to despair and that places some in a precarious place that often leads to them taking their own life in that hopelessness.

Fr Jim Martin, SJ today shared a lovely prayer on Facebook today asking for God to be with all of us when we feel hated:

A Prayer When I Feel Hated

Loving God, you made me who I am.
I praise you and I love you,
for I am wonderfully made, in your own image.

But when people make fun of me,
I feel hurt and embarrassed and even ashamed.
So please God, help me remember my own goodness,
which lies in you.
Help me remember my dignity,
which you gave me when I was conceived.
Help me remember that I can live a life of love,
because you created my heart.

Be with me, loving God, when people hate me,
and help me to respond how you would want me to:
with a love that respects others, but also respects me.
Help me find friends who love me for who I am.
Help me, most of all, to be a loving person.

And God, help me remember that Jesus loves me.
For he was seen as an outcast, too.
He was misunderstood, too.
He was beaten and spat upon.
Jesus understands me,
and loves me with a special love,
because of the way you made me.

And when I am feeling lonely,
help me to remember that Jesus welcomed everyone as a friend.
Jesus reminded everyone that God loved them.
Jesus encouraged everyone to embrace their dignity,
even when others were blind to seeing that dignity.
Jesus loved everyone with the boundless love that you gave him.
And he loves me, too.

One more thing, God:
Help me remember
that nothing is impossible with you,
that you have a way of making things better,
and that you can find a way of love for me,
even if I can’t see it right now.

Help me remember all these things
in the heart you created, loving God.

James Martin, SJ

I know there have been times when I’ve felt hated. I know there are still people who hate me for whatever reason. And I know I still hold hatred for others in my heart as well. For all of this, may God continue to change us, again and again.


Young Adults Inspire South African Bishop to Question Hierarchical Structures

Bishop Kevin Dowling, (A redemptorist) from South Africa offers the following thoughts that others including America Magazine’s Fr James Martin, SJ, (h/t to the good Father) have been noting positively and that traditionalists are abhorring today (check the comment box at America). This part on young adults influencing him should certainly not be overlooked:

When I worked internationally from my Religious Congregation’s base in Rome from 1985 – 1990 before I came back here as bishop of Rustenburg, one of my responsibilities was the building up of young adult ministry with our communities in the countries of Europe where so many of the young people were alienated from the Church. I developed relationships with many hundreds of sincere, searching Catholic young adults, very open to issues of injustice, poverty and misery in the world, aware of structural injustice in the political and economic systems which dominated the world……but who increasingly felt that the “official” Church was not only out of touch with reality, but a counter-witness to the aspirations of thinking and aware Catholics who sought a different experience of Church. In other words, an experience which enabled them to believe that the Church they belonged to had something relevant to say and to witness to in the very challenging world in which they lived. Many, many of these young adults have since left the Church entirely.

On the other hand, it has to be recognised that for a significant number of young Catholics, adult Catholics, priests and religious around the world, the “restorationist” model of Church which has been implemented over the past 30 – 40 years is sought after and valued; it meets a need in them; it gives them a feeling of belonging to something with very clear parameters and guidelines for living, thus giving them a sense of security and clarity about what is truth and what is morally right or wrong, because there is a clear and strong authority structure which decides definitively on all such questions, and which they trust absolutely as being of divine origin.

The rise of conservative groups and organisations in the Church over the past 40 years and more, which attract significant numbers of adherents, has led to a phenomenon which I find difficult to deal with, viz. an inward looking Church, fearful of if not antagonistic towards a secularist world with its concomitant danger of relativism especially in terms of truth and morality – frequently referred to by Pope Benedict XVI; a Church which gives an impression of “retreating behind the wagons”, and relying on a strong central authority to ensure unity through uniformity in belief and praxis in the face of such dangers. The fear is that without such supervision and control, and that if any freedom in decision-making is allowed, even in less important matters, this will open the door to division and a breakdown in the unity of the Church.

This is all about a fundamentally different “vision” in the Church and “vision” of the Church. Where today can we find the great theological leaders and thinkers of the past, like Cardinal Frings and Alfrink in Europe, and the great prophetic bishops whose voice and witness was a clarion call to justice, human rights and a global community of equitable sharing – the witness of Archbishop Romero of El Salvador, the voices of Cardinals Arns and Lorscheider, and Bishops Helder Camara and Casadaliga of Brazil? Again, who in today’s world “out there” even listens to, much less appreciates and allows themselves to be challenged by the leadership of the Church at the present time? I think the moral authority of the Church’s leadership today has never been weaker. It is, therefore, important in my view that Church leadership, instead of giving an impression of its power, privilege and prestige, should rather be experienced as a humble, searching ministry together with its people in order to discern the most appropriate or viable responses which can be made to complex ethical and moral questions – a leadership, therefore, which does not presume to have all the answers all the time….

Amen! While the church and the elements of mystery that many traditionalists hold dear (and who often co-opt young people into their factionalism) at mass, can be comforting, that is not all that Catholicism is and should be. We need ritual that inspires people to go and become that same Jesus, that same Eucharist, that same thanksgiving that indeed can save the world.

What does that mean and more importantly what does it look like?

A simple question: Does mass inspire you? And if it does, than what does it inspire you to become?

Notice I didn’t ask what does it inspire you to DO!

Mass is supposed to be about transformation. Where bread and wine is changed into Christ himself and where in the giving of that flesh and blood we too, are transformed. The self-gift of God in giving His son to the world and then the Son giving His life on the cross and followed by the gift of the spirit’s continual presence in our life should indeed move us.

Just as God doesn’t give up on us, we should not give up on one another.

And with that in mind, Bishop Dowling asks “Where have all the Oscar Romero’s gone?” And perhaps we should think about those figures who have inspired the world to change. Mother Teresa and John Paul II also would be on that list along with Oscar Romero and Dorothy Day. But I just had to reach back 30 years to grab someone who began that inspiring way of life.

Who is doing something inspiring for young people in the church today? What’s the inspiring change that Catholics are being in the world? We can’t even get mothers to stop killing their babies because most of the time people simply vilify them. We can’t get the rich to care enough about the poor that they might sacrifice themselves even a bit, to go without so that others might have something to eat and a place to live.

We are all too self-involved and that goes along with our self-involvement with the church’s internal structure. What if we spent more money on the poor than on a papal mass during the same week the Pope was here and then letting the Pope see that and moving him to talk about those efforts to mobilize others? What if World Youth Day surrounded several giant social justice projects that all participants could take part in –as we often see with Alternative Spring Breaks, Shelters and Education programs for single moms and Extreme Home Makeovers?

What if we actually practiced what we preached?

Now in fairness, because as you know, I am King of Fairness….

The old priests in the hierarchy aren’t exactly able to go out and start rebuilding homes for the poor. And liturgy isn’t unimportant, to be sure and tradition is a high value as well–which is something that they certainly do contribute to the continued dialogue (some might say monologue). But what if for every liturgical initiative a bishop makes he also fronts a social justice initiative? And we have no better example to think of here than John Paul II who insisted that for every hour of Eucharistic Adoration that we do we also give one hour of service to the poor.

Imagine that.

What would that look like?

How would WE be transformed? And how would the church transform the world?

More of Bishop Dowling’s comments are here.

Papal Preacher is No Fr. James Martin, SJ

Fr. Jim Martin, SJ had words that everyone should have read yesterday:

Good Friday, though, reminds us that Jesus went to his crucifixion freely and surrendered his life for something greater, which came on Easter Sunday. This profound image may help the Catholic Church meditate on what it is invited to do. But that means that something has to die.

What needs to die is a clerical culture that fostered power, privilege and secrecy. An attitude that placed a priest’s reputation above a child’s welfare. A mindset in which investigations of dissident theologians and American Catholic sisters were more swiftly prosecuted than investigations of abusive priests. What needs to die is a certain pride. All this needs to be surrendered freely.

I think Fr. Jim should be promoted to “papal preacher” especially when we heard this from the actual papal preacher yesterday. (From the London Telegraph)

The “coincidence” that Passover falls in the same week as Easter celebrations, said Rev Cantalamessa, a Franciscan, who offers reflections at Vatican Easter and Advent services, prompted him to think about Jews.

“They know from experience what it means to be victims of collective violence and also because of this they are quick to recognize the recurring symptoms,” the preacher said.

Quoting from the letter from the friend, who was not identified, the preacher said that he was following “‘with indignation the violent and concentric attacks against the church, the pope and all the faithful of the whole world.”‘

“The use of stereotypes, the passing from personal responsibility and guilt to a collective guilt remind me of the more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism,”‘ Cantalamessa said his friend wrote him.

Better start vetting the homilies now. Talk about a stupid statement! Let me not pile on here except to say that death and extermination does not and never will equal character assassination. While the Pope has come under attack for his own role in allowing the abuse of children and perhaps has been treated unfairly by some in the media, this should not ever be compared to the Holocaust.

Apologies from me today to our Jewish brothers and sisters, especially my sister and brother in law and their children.

And a note to the papal preacher. Get a clue and think about what you’re really saying when you try to equate two tragedies.

The Gospel According to Blog

America Magazine’s Fr James Martin, S.J. blogged on the Pope’s Message for the World Day of Communications today in which he essentially encourages us to blog the gospel.

This is an essential message for all those in the Catholic church who disparage new media. About ten years ago I remember speaking with a long-time observer of the Catholic church, and asking why so few Catholic leaders–especially some in the hierarchy at the time–seemed to have so little to say about television. “They don’t watch it,” he said bluntly. It was infra dig. That was pretty shocking, and it reminded me of someone who told me that those who proudly say that they don’t watch television are actually saying that they know nothing about the culture in which we live.

Today the same could be said about the new media–the Internet, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, and so on. Some of these developments, to be sure, are a mixed bag, a blessing and a curse, to borrow from Scripture. (What man-made creation isn’t?) The Internet, which boasts Wikipedia and thousands of sites for reputable news sources, can sometimes seem like Newton Minow’s famous “vast wasteland,” filled with hate-filled blogs and, well, pornography. (One of the most popular songs from the musical “Avenue Q” is “The Internet is for Porn.”) Youtube, a marvelous place to find clips of movies and songs that you thought you’d never see or hear again, is also the home of, well, more porn. Facebook, a terrific way to keep up with friends and trade photos, is also the originator of the minute-by-minute account from “friends” telling you that they’re cleaning their bathroom.

But guess what? That’s where people are congregating today and if we want to emulate Jesus we should remember that he went out to see people, rather than simply letting them come to him. (He did some of the latter, but much more of the former.) The history of Christianity is in large part the history of the church using to great effect the latest media, sometimes even inventing media, to evangelize.

Read the whole thing as Fr Jim essentially gives a history of Saints who use modern methods of communication for their time.

Fr. Frank Desiderio, CSP who ran Paulist Productions for many years once told me that we’re really extending the message of Jesus when we use media. Jesus used the media of his day: itinerant preaching–parables or story telling, if you will. St. Paul was a letter writer and Paulist Founder and now Servant of God, Isaac Hecker was a publisher. So blogs like this one and sites like BustedHalo® are simply doing what Jesus and his followers have always done.

So blog the gospel, facebook the psalms and tweet Catholic social teaching because there is where the message of Jesus needs to be most alive.

A h/t to the Jewish Journal for the pic and to America Magazine.

And congrats to Fr Jim Martin on…

I have been remiss in mentioning that Fr James Martin, SJ celebrated taking his final vows as a Jesuit on All Saints Day–how appropriate for the author of My Life With the Saints.

Fr Jim also received the Gaudium et Spes Award from Fordham University’s Graduate School of Religion for his work in media and in service to the poor.

For those of you who might not be aware of Fr Jim’s rising star you should check out his books: In Good Company and his acclaimed best seller,My Life with the Saints. Loyola Productions also has a great video Who Cares About the Saints? Here’s a clip:

When your deadly serious, you’re seriously dead…

That was the line of the night at the Sapientia et Doctrina dinner where Jesuit Father and all around good guy, Fr James Martin, SJ was the keynote speaker. From Fordham’s website

The school honored 11 people and agencies for their excellence in doing the day-to-day work of the church, and bestowed a special Gaudium et Spes award on James Martin, S.J., award-winning author of My Life With the Saints (Loyola, 2006).

Father Martin, an associate editor at America magazine and media commentator familiarly dubbed the “Colbert Report chaplain” for his appearance on the popular show, spoke to the value of expressing more liveliness and laughter, or “salt and light,” among Catholics today.

“We’ve all met Catholics who seem to think that being religious means being deadly serious,” he said. “But of course, when you’re deadly serious, you’re seriously dead.”

Fr Jim killed and I wasn’t so bad myself as I was the preacher during the reconciliation service.

If you’ve never heard Fr Jim before…check him out on the Colbert Report here:

<td style='padding:2px 1px 0px 5px;' colspan='2'Father James Martin
The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Michael Moore

Fr James Martin, S.J. as Possible Replacement for Mary Ann Glendon?

Well, not really…but…

Fr James Martin, S.J. has created a masterpiece here with his open letter to Notre Dame’s President. He has his tongue planted firmly in his cheek..well..sorta.

Now that Mary Ann Glendon has announced that she would not accept Notre Dame’s prestigious Laetare Medal, because she was “dismayed” by the university’s awarding of an honorary degree to President Obama, the search is undoubtedly on for another recipient. Let me suggest one candidate you may have otherwise overlooked: me.

Now, I know many more notable and famous and accomplished and, well, deserving names may spring to mind. Names that would probably draw more of a crowd, names of people with a lifetime of service behind them, or names that would probably pose fewer problems in terms of Catholic orthodoxy. Say, Pope Benedict XVI. (Though draping a medal on top of his papal pectoral cross seems a little like overkill.) Or, say, Susan Boyle, that awesome YouTube singer, who is not only super-Catholic but would be a huge hit when she belted out the Notre Dame fight song. Or Mother Teresa, who everybody likes, though being dead might be a strike against her if a speech is expected.

Anyway, I think there are plenty of good reasons to offer me the now in-play Laetare Award. Let me list just a few.

1.) I don’t have one.
As it turns out, I’ve only received a few real “awards,” like one from Plymouth-Whitemarsh Senior High School, and a Christopher Award, which is really nice, and just last week an award with the longest name yet: “The Loyola Institute of Spirituality’s Hearts on Fire Writer’s Award in Spirituality,” and, let me tell you, that’s a lot of words to fit on a chunk of crystal: it must weigh five pounds. I could kill someone with that award. (But I won’t of course: I’m pro-life.) But the last time I checked I didn’t have a Laetare Award. I’ll bet it’s nice, too. Is it a real medal? With a ribbon? Cool. I could wear it over my vestments at Mass. In fact, I would be so happy to have that sitting on my shelf that…

Read the rest for more–hysterical.

Upcoming–my own Laetare Medal speech…putting the finishing touches on this one and will you tube it.

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What the Hell is Purgatory?

Fr James Martin and myself tell you all about it!

“None of us are perfect but all of us are on a journey toward God” is one of the ways we use to explain what the name Busted Halo® means. Given our name it is no surprise that people often ask us:

“Since I’m not perfect, how can I get into heaven?”

Heaven is defined by the Catholic Church as “a perfect life with the Holy Trinity” and “ultimate end and fulfillment of our deepest human longings.”

But most of us feel we fall short of deserving to be in full union with God. While all of us sin, though, most of us don’t sin in such a grave way that we cut ourselves off completely from God. And even if we do commit grave sins, many of us seek reconciliation with God throughout our lives.

So, if heaven is this state of perfection… and one dies while being far from perfect… how can one enter heaven? The answer, Father James Martin, SJ, tells us, is purgatory. So just what the hell is purgatory?

More on Purgatory can be found here in the rest of this BustedHalo “Googling God Section” mixed media piece.

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