The New Gasparian
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A journal dedicated to the life and mission of St. Gaspar del Bufalo, and to a life lived in response to the call and the cry of the Most Precious Blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our on-going mission is to share good news of hope and communion.

Monday, November 03, 2003
Favorite Catholic Periodical

I was looking through a stack of recent periodicals that grace the end table in the living room and my desk.

National Catholic Register
National Catholic Reporter
Catholic World Report
The Priest
First Things
Pastoral Music
The Wanderer
Ministry and Liturgy

We get Time and Newsweek and Economist, but those are not Catholic periodicals.

I am not sure that any one of them give a balanced view of Catholic life and times in the 21st century. As you may see, I have cancelled a few subscriptions mainly because in my view, their view is just a bit too narrow.

I plan to whittle down the list a bit more. I cannot read everything. But balance, why is it so elusive? So, the question: What is your favorite Catholic Periodical? What would YOU take off the list? What would You add?

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 9:29 PM link
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There is a cool article in
The Catholic Spirit about the International Retrouvaille Council Meeting I attended and helped preside at last month.

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 10:23 AM link
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Lying flat on my back is the most comfortable position. Things are daily getting better and I no longer need to take the pain medication, but still this package I am carry around my midsection is less than comfortable. The guys in the house give off this sheepish grin whenever they see me try to sit or stand. Sitting or walking I am fine, it is simply moving to or from a seated position that takes some time or effort. This morning I presided at Eucharist for the first time since the surgery and someone exchanged the presider’s chair for one with arms. This morning I was able to tie my shoe laces by myself. Steve has been taking that chore since Thursday.

At any rate, lying flat on my back is still to position where I am the most comfortable. The last few days, rather than sitting in my room with my current spiritual reading, I went to bed early and took the book with me.

I have a few books that I am plowing through at the moment. My main recent reads have been A Hard Saying: Gospel and Culture by Francis Moloney, and The Theology of the Body Explained by Christopher West. Neither of these books are the kind you read flat on your back. With Moloney, I have to be sitting at a writing desk with a journal handy. So I went in search of something a little lighter and simpler.

Those who have known me a long time know of my fondness for Merton. At last count I have in my little library about 60 of his books including all his letters and journals. For someone who has been dead for more than 25 years he certainly has a talent for coming out with a new book every year. His most recent, The Inner Experience, is a remarkable book.

For the three nights my reading has been from The Sign of Jonas by Thomas Merton.

I was just scanning over all the book titles and picked this one. It had been years since I had read it. I have always been attracted to the sign of Jonah in the Scriptures, and I noticed immediately that this book was first published in the year of my birth. It has been a rather refreshing read.

Last night I went looking for a passage I had read a few nights ago. It seems that Merton has something particular to say about us in this day and age too. It seems that Merton was having some vocation questions prior to his final profession. The final solution was simply to do what his superiors advised, a prospect he found both horrible and inviting.

Lying in the quiet I was stuck by the both the danger and the grace of such a solution. It can be dangerous in the hands of a superior who is simply exercising power and has no accountability to grace. It can be grace in that we are subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.

The coming schism in the Anglican Communion is the result of failing to be accountable to grace. If we insist on moving forward based solely on our own experience we have a fool for a superior. Certainly there is a place for all of us at the table, but only if we repent. Is it really possible to come to the table simply as I am?

I am not a vowed religious, but a member of a Society of Apostolic Life. We do not have Superiors. St. Gaspar knew that this would give us freedom to move in response to mission. But he did not make us unaccountable. We are still accountable to one another and to the Church. We are still accountable to the Word of God which we are to carry with great humility.

These are the challenges for a Christian in a free agent world. Do we really walk through fire and water on our own? Is my own heart the sole arbiter of what is true and right?

There are many questions here, the main ones are these:

To whom am I accountable?
How am I accountable?
What place does
humility have in my life?
Where do I find truth?

Here is Thomas Merton’s experience:

One day I was in Father Abbot’s room complaining that I was not the contemplative or the solitary that I wanted to be, that I made no progress in this house and that I ought to be either a Carthusian or an outright hermit, Dom Frederic casually remarked that there were some men in the house who could come to him and tell him their troubles and go out quite satisfied with whatever answer he gave them. From a certain point of view the solution sounds utterly horrible. And yet it is quite wonderful. It implies a faith and simplicity without which it is hard to live the contemplative life. We really have to believe our Superiors. We cannot simply judge them by human standards, taking the things they tell us as opinions that are to be weighed in the balance with our own. I do not know if I shall ever be able to do it. But I need something of that and I hope Jesus will give me the grace for it. (p. 19)

And anyway, I did not come here for myself but for God. God is my order and my cell. He is my religious life and my rule. He has disposed everything in my life in order to draw me inward, where I can see him and rest in him. He has put me in this place because he wants me in this place, and if he ever wants to put anywhere else, he will do so in a way that will leave no doubt as to who is doing it. (p.22)

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 10:02 AM link
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