Josh Johnson.pdf

Racial reconciliation

Posted November 18, 2020 at 12:00 am

My mother is Catholic and white, and my father is Methodist and Black. They raised our family in the Catholic Church but growing up, I never really felt connected to the church and didn’t have a relationship with Jesus.  

We were “sacramentalized,” but I was never evangelized until high school, when Protestants began to share Jesus with me. I also lived a lifestyle that was not conducive to becoming a saint, and I stopped going to church.  

My mom still made us go to religious education classes, and one of my friends was a white girl who recognized that there were only a few Black kids in our class and never any Black kids in youth group. She was very intentional about making us feel seen and welcome. The summer before my senior year she invited me to a Catholic youth conference. I

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    Saints are us

    Saints are us

    “Everyone is invited to the heavenly banquet, everyone is welcome. But the decision to come is yours. Get ready though, for it is not just the party of the season, or the century; this is the party of eternity.”

    I found this wonderful quote in a notebook I keep of ideas for future columns. Unfortunately, I didn’t write down who said or wrote it. But my thanks to author unknown.

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    Solving the riddle of clergy colors

    Q Why does a priest always wear black?

    A First of all, not all priests wear black. Priests in certain religious orders wear the color of their order. Franciscan friars wear brown or grey robes. Dominican priests normally wear robes that are mostly white. And, many priests in tropical climates wear white to decrease the heat from the sun.

    Most diocesan priests in the United States, however, do wear black, but this

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    Fratelli Tutti

    On Nov. 3, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, his namesake, Pope Francis, went to that beautiful little town in Umbria, Italy to celebrate Mass in its basilica and announce to the world the publication of his third encyclical letter “Fratelli Tutti.” The words in Italian are taken from a letter of St. Francis to his friars and translate “Brothers All,” a nice historical touch. Titles of encyclicals traditionally begin with the first two nouns, adjectives or verbs of the letter. However, Pope Francis was quick in

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    Pope Francis’ new encyclical

    On Oct. 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis released a new encyclical entitled, “Fratelli Tutti – On Fraternity and Social Friendship.” It can appear a rather depressing read because of its searing realism, except it plays the long game of Christian hope. 

    Fratelli Tutti lays out reasons why there’s so much injustice, inequality and community breakdown in our world and how in faith and love these might be addressed. The intent here is not to give a synopsis of the encyclical, other than to say it’s courageous and speaks truth

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    Rolheiser.pdf

    The hidden face of evil

    We tend to be naïve about evil, at least as to what it looks like in everyday life. Our picture of evil has been falsely shaped by images taken from mythology, religious cults and from books and movies that portray evil as personified in sinister spiritual forces. Demons haunt houses, appear at séances, are summoned up by Ouija boards, contort bodies and are exorcized by the sprinkling of holy water. Whatever evil does reside inside this concept of demonic forces (and you can believe in them or not) is

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    Bishop Duca’s message regarding Phase 3

    (The following is a letter Bishop Michael G. Duca wrote to priests in the Diocese of Baton Rouge regarding Louisiana moving into Phase 3 of Louisiana’s pandemic response.)

    This week (Sept. 14) we entered “Phase III” of our social pandemic response.  I have been working to formalize a response to how that will affect our current diocesan guidelines and the prevailing practices in Diocesan parishes. I

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    St. Peter: Pope, missionary, martyr

    In my most recent column for The Catholic Commentator, I wrote about the Gospel accounts of St. Peter’s rocky road as leader of the apostles through Jesus’ three-year ministry, death and resurrection. 

    Jesus stated his intention to found his church on St. Peter, the human rock. At the Last Supper he prayed for St. Peter that after the crucifixion, he would reverse his shameful denial of his Lord and strengthen his brother apostles. 

    How Jesus accomplished this through St. Peter we learn mainly from St. Luke’s addition to his Gospel, the Acts of the

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    St. Peter’s rocky road

    In the (Sept. 11) issue of The Catholic Commentator I wrote that St. Peter was chosen by Jesus to not only lead his apostles and be the human founding stone of his church but also to be a “model for us of what God wants from us in his mysterious plan of salvation.” St. Peter learned, often through his own mistakes and his own suffering, to follow Jesus with faith rather than with his own worldly judgments. If we follow Jesus in the New Testament Scriptures, from the

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    A risky gamble

    As a youngster donning a Nelson Stokley jersey and later the famous No. 37 of Tommy Casanova (which officially qualifies me as a candidate for the Antiques Roadshow), the approaching college football season somehow always eased the agony of going back to school.  

    Curiously, even back then when rather than fly to games teams would travel by Tyrannosaurus Rex, one of the perennial questions was if LSU could beat Alabama and its Hall of Fame coach. Some things never seem to change.  

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    The last temptation

    “The last temptation is the greatest treason:  

    To do the right deed for the wrong reason.”  

    T.S. Eliot wrote those words to describe how difficult it is to purge our motivation of selfish concerns, to do things for reasons that are not ultimately about ourselves. In Eliot’s “Murder in the Cathedral,” his main character is Thomas Becket, the archbishop of Canterbury, who is martyred for his faith. From every outward appearance, Archbishop Becket is a saint, unselfish, motivated by faith and love. But as Eliot teases out in “Murder in the Cathedral,” the outward narrative

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    What kind of rock was St. Peter?

    What kind of rock was St. Peter? 

    A few Sundays ago we prayed at the beginning of Mass, “Lord Jesus Christ, you have built your church upon the rock of St. Peter’s faith. Grant that nothing can make our faith waver or fail, because you live and reign with the father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.” Is God hearing that prayer that we have prayed every year since the end of the Second Vatican Council

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    Pornography and the sacred

    The ancient Greeks had gods and goddesses for everything, including a goddess of shame called Aidos. Shame for them meant much more than it normally means to us. In their mind, shame brought with it modesty, respect and a certain needed reticence before things that should remain private and hidden. The goddess of shame instructed you as to when you were supposed to turn your eyes away from things too intimate to be seen. Shame, as they understood it, contained a modesty and reverence you were supposed to feel in

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    Sweet doing nothing

    I support The Christophers with a modest yearly donation. They are a non-profit organization founded in 1945 by Father James Keller MM to encourage people to change the world for the better. Every month they send me a begging letter and a tri-fold newsletter called “Christopher News Notes.”

    Whoever selects their topics must give spiritual retreats or preach a lot of homilies. The News Notes do not keep up with news about what is happening currently in the church or the world, but

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    Lessons learned during past pandemics

    Coronavirus is only the latest iteration of an age-old human affliction. Even now, with the benefit of advanced medical science, our reaction – our confusion, our fear – is not so different from how our ancestors experienced recurrent and terrifying onslaughts of plague, cholera and yellow fever across the ages. We can learn from the courage and ingenuity of those who travelled this road before us.

    Consider the work of Dr. Carlos Finlay in Cuba. In 1880 he hypothesized, and

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    Carville.pdf

    ‘All creation is groaning’

    Scientists tell us that the creation of our universe began with a big bang. Everything we see now on a clear night, including the earth we inhabit and its stars, the sun and our single moon was cast outward into motion and continues to expand. And telescopes put into space tell us that there is so much more to be seen. Yet none of this stars, planets, moons, water, vegetation, fish, animals and finally human beings can have caused itself. We are here because God wished that, besides

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    Doyle.pdf

    Meaning of original sin/ Obligation for televised Mass?

    Q When I was a Protestant, I never heard mention of “original sin.” We were told that each person is responsible for their own sins and need not even worry about sin until we approached “the age of accountability” (usually said to be about the age of 10). Until then, we were told, people are in a “state of grace” meaning that, if they died, they would go to heaven.  

    Now, as a Catholic, I hear original sin mentioned almost weekly and, it

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    Letting go of false fear

    Recently in a radio interview, I was asked this question: “If you were on your deathbed, what would you want to leave behind as your parting words?” The question momentarily took me aback. What would I want to leave behind as my last words? Not having time for much reflection, I settled on this. I would want to say: “Don’t be afraid. Live without fear. Don’t be afraid of death. Most of all, don’t be afraid of God!”  

    I’m a cradle Catholic,

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    Carville.pdf

    A prayer for our vulnerable earth, its creatures and people

    A few weeks ago, my sister-in-law texted to my family the beautiful prayer you can read that accompanies this column. Its timing could not have been better. On June 18, the Catholic Church celebrated the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ social encyclical on the environment and human ecology, “Laudato Si’,” on Care for Our Common home.” Since then, there have been many articles in Catholic magazines and newspapers commenting on the effect of the pope’s urgent request that we care for the earth. In one way or another

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    Doyle.pdf

    Do converts have to be ‘remarried’?/ Bowing at name of Jesus

    Q A friend and his wife, along with their daughter, were recently confirmed into the Catholic Church after being Methodists their entire life, including getting married within the Methodist Church. They were told by some parish officials (laymen) that their marriage is not recognized by the Catholic Church and that they must be “remarried” within the Catholic Church.  

    That does not sound right to me, but I can’t find any specific ruling or teaching on this. (The same lay leaders also claimed that

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    Rolheiser color 2020.pdf

    Some secrets worth knowing

    Monks have secrets worth knowing, and these can be invaluable when a coronavirus pandemic is forcing millions of us to live like monks.   

    Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of us have been forced to stay at home, work from home, practice social distancing from everyone except those in our own houses and have minimal social contact with the outside. In a manner of speaking, this has turned many of us into monks, like it or not. What’s the secret

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    Teach us to fight racism

    The Catholic Church never taught me how to fight racism.  

    As a cradle Catholic, the church taught me how to fight abortion, poverty, hunger, violence and even the degradation of the environment.  

    I learned about the power of prayer. I saw parishes raising money, volunteering locally and protesting publicly. I heard stirring homilies, read books denouncing these evils, and celebrated saints who gave their lives for what was right.  

    But when it

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    Doyle.pdf

    Forgiveness of ‘many’ or ‘all’?/ Divorce, remarriage and Communion

    Q During Mass, at the consecration of the wine, the priest says, “for the forgiveness of many.” Why not “for the forgiveness of all”? (Northampton, Pennsylvania)  

    A I should start by saying that it is clearly the teaching of the church that Jesus suffered and died for all men and women. That is attested to in several different scriptural passages (Jn 11:52; 2 Cor 5:14-15; Ti 2:11; 1 Jn 2:2).  

    In the official English-language edition of the Order

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    Carville.pdf

    Avoiding the trap of money

    For most of us money can be a trap. When income tax time rolls around, as it did this year even though it was delayed to July 15 because of the coronavirus pandemic, it is a rather blunt reminder of how much of our personal world is controlled by money. We tally up our tax bill and moan about how little of our salaries we get to keep. We wonder if we should not have given more to charity, helping others while taking more deductions. We look at

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    Life in lockdown

    Commonweal is an excellent Catholic magazine published monthly in New York City by Catholic laity.  Its May issue was  entitled “Life in Lockdown” and contained four letters, one from a Jewish woman and three from Catholics around the world describing their experiences of being quarantined in one form or another because of the coronavirus epidemic.  Their experiences were sad, beautiful and spiritual.

    Hammer wrote that “aloneness was like a migraine, a sickness that never left. No matter how hard I worked, how much I prayed, or

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    Fanucci, Laura-color.pdf

    How faith grows in quarantine

    Families have never been closer. Families have never been farther apart.

    Like many of you, I’ve been sheltering in place with my spouse and kids for three months. We’ve eaten every meal together, spent every day together, argued and laughed and fumed and forgiven together. 

    But we can’t visit with friends and relatives like we used to do. We don’t get to catch up with co-workers over lunch or hang out with classmates after school. We’re stuck with the seven of us which,

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    Rolheiser.pdf

    Our deep failure in charity

    St. Eugene de Mazenod, the founder of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the religious congregation to which I belong, left us with these last words as he lay dying: “Among yourselves, charity, charity, charity.” I don’t always live that, though I wish I could, especially today.

    We are in a bitter time. Everywhere there is anger, condemnation of others, and bitter disagreement; so much so that today we are simply unable to have a reasonable discussion on any sensitive political, moral, or doctrinal issue. We demonize each other to the point where

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    Doyle.pdf

    Which day is the Sabbath?/ Mass obligation, emotional struggle

    Q Is it true that the church changed the day of the Sabbath? I have always felt that the Sabbath occurred on Saturday, but I have learned that the early church decided to celebrate the breaking of bread on Sunday because that was the day of Christ’s resurrection. (Nigeria)  

    A Technically, it is not true that the Christian church changed the Sabbath day. The Sabbath is still on Saturday (or, more properly, from sundown on Friday), marking the fact that God rested from

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    My interview with Mr. Fred Rogers

    Fred Rogers was a good friend for many years. He entertained and educated children for more than a generation, and died on Feb. 27, 2003.  

    When he came to New York we often had dinner together. It’s my privilege to introduce him to you again today. Children still love him and parents trust him.  

    The theme song of his TV Show, “Mr. Rogers’s Neighborhood,” contained the words, “Won’t you be my neighbor?” When I did my TV show

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    Carville.pdf

    What to save of Notre Dame?

    Out of great tragedies come great lessons. Six days before Easter the Cathedral of Notre Dame, “Our Lady” as the French think of it, almost completely burned to the ground. The roof and its steeple entirely burned to ash, along with almost the entire inside of the cathedral. However, the front towers and the exterior walls with their beautiful stained glass windows were saved by some very brave firefighters. In his Easter homily, Archbishop Michel Aupetit of Paris praised those firefighters and their priest chaplain, Father Jean-Marc Fournier, who

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