I’m Moving to Patheos (link to new home)

This post is pretty simple. I’m moving to Patheos Catholic so please follow me there on my column “Through Catholic Lenses.” I don’t have much else to add beyond suggesting you read the description there regarding the name.

Through Catholic Lenses

3 Distinctions When Catholics Are Accused of “Discrimination”

I recently wrote about the cases of “discrimination” on Catholic Stand.

In recent years, there have been many claims that this or that Catholic group was discriminatory. Everything from “Pro-choice Woman Denied Catholic Wedding” to “Gay Teacher Fired” to “Autistic Denied Communion.” Some of these are discrimination and need changing, but not all are. We need to understand when the Church is simply fulfilling her mission, not discriminating.

What divides the real discrimination from protecting the faith? I propose three key distinctions: tendencies and acts, chosen and automatic acts, and private and public acts. These distinctions are simple but are lost in today’s discussion. I will explain each, then show how it applies, and conclude with real-life examples of non-discrimination…

Read the rest there.

14 Wokest signs at the March for Life 2018

As you’ve probably seen, I tend to find the best signs at the March for Life each year and do a pretty big post. This year, Aleteia carried my post with the 14 wokest signs at the March for Life. Here are 2 but you need to click on the link to see the rest.

Labels and Francis’s Culture of Encounter

A reflection I made on Regnum Christi Live.

A few weeks back I wrote a piece on why certain labels like conservative or liberal religious community are unhelpful. My argument was mainly that these labels bring a foreign concept – politics – into religion. However, as I thought about it, I realize a lot more places where we tend to label people. I want to compare our tendency to label people with the culture of encounter Pope Francis has called for.

Labels can be helpful: knowing I’m a “person with high blood pressure” helps me be more cautious about extra weight. But labels can also limit a person or reduce them: if you reduce me to my high blood pressure, you lose a lot of who I am as that is only the most minor aspect of me.

Labels can come in all forms. An older person can use the label “millennial” to disparage young people while the younger person can use the label “old fogey” to disparage old people. It isn’t just age: status, races, creeds, personalities, interests, or medical conditions can also be used to label and diminish others.

Read the rest on the Regnum Christi blog.

Why Do We Have Traditions?

I reflected on my family traditions over at Regnum Christi Live in a post that might be worth reading before Christmas.

At first glance, some traditions seem meaningless. When I was a kid my family had a tradition to eat taco salad in the living room on New Year’s Eve. It was the only day of the year mom didn’t yell at us for taking food into the living room. But why taco salad and why New Year’s Eve? I really don’t know.

Another tradition in my family is that mom and dad would go out on a date in Late November, and the kids would decorate while they were gone. I know how this tradition started. The first time was really me and my sister’s idea. Mom didn’t want to put up decorations quite yet but didn’t tell us not to so as we babysat our younger two siblings, we thought it would be fun for the four of us to decorate the house, so we did. At first, mom was a mix of surprised and annoyed, but then she realized we did an OK job so just left things as they were rather than make extra work for herself. The next year we did it without permission again, and after that it became a tradition. Even now, my sisters sneak into mom and dad’s house when they’re out and decorate for Christmas (I live too far away to participate).

Read the rest over on the Regnum Christi Blog.

The Holy Father’s “Our Father” Comments in Context

I just wrote on the “Our Father” controversy over on Catholic Stand.

On the evening of December 6th, TV2000, the Italian equivalent of EWTN, aired an interview of Pope Francis where he criticized the Italian translation of the Our Father. He pointed out how some other languages have better translations. His argument is the Italian isn’t an accurate description of what the Gospel says, not to change the Gospel.

So, please don’t freak out about this. Give me 3 minutes to explain.

How Translation Works

Let’s do a little background to understand how translation works, the original text of the Our Father, and then examine the problem in Italian Francis refers to. Before I learned other languages, I thought the translation was just changing a word for a word. I assumed words meant the same in different languages. Later, I learned this is not the case. However, it is easy to think this before learning foreign languages.

A comical example a friend who teaches foreign languages posted was Google translate gives “mermelada de papel” for “paper jam.”  Anyone who knows Spanish is laughing. “Mermelada” means jam in the sense of fruit jam in your fridge so this means you’ve made paper into food.

Read the rest on Catholic Stand.

The net neutrality debate needs a little nuance

As the net neutrality debate heats up, let’s look at some nuances that are important for a moral analysis. I did on Aleteia this week.

The binary view in American politics can often lead us to believe there are only two possible options. Nuances and third ways are often missed, and that’s what is happening in the case of net neutrality.

As a priest who uses the internet more than most, I want to provide a very brief overview of what net neutrality is, and then put forth two nuanced ideas that need to become part of the discussion.

The basic idea of net neutrality is to treat consumer internet service as a utility: to treat your ISP (internet service provider such as Verizon or Comcast) like your phone and electricity provider. The binary options usually presented are either: (a) regulations to insure they must treat all internet data the same and have price controls, or (b) an essentially unregulated market.

Both sides in the debate seem concerned with what content companies can prioritize, but with differing emphasis. Net neutrality, as currently presented, would require all internet traffic to be treated equally. I think most of us understand the problem with Comcast prioritizing content from NBC – which it owns – while minimizing content from competitors. This would also extend to political opinions: imagine if an ISP decided articles on Catholic teaching were bad for its bottom line and started blocking sites that promoted it?

Read the rest on Aleteia.

Traditional or Progressive, Conservative or Liberal Are Misleading Regarding Religions

After hearing foreign terms for religious life many times, I finally wrote my thoughts into an article.

Isn’t it time to stop labeling religious communities with alien terms?

I always wonder what commentators mean when they say a religious community is traditional or progressive, conservative or liberal. Why do we bring these foreign terms into religious life and the Church?

There obviously are different types of religious communities.

A contemplative community is different from an active one; a preaching community is different from one dedicated to serving the poor; a community might follow an Ignatian or Franciscan spirituality; it might be charismatic or do the liturgy in Latin; it might do mental prayer together in adoration or leave it for each to do on his own; and many other divisions that distinguish the hundreds of religious communities around the globe.

But none of these things make them “traditional” or “progressive,” “conservative” or “liberal.”

Read the rest on Aleteia.

Foster Parenting: The Forgotten Piece in the Adoption Debate

I wrote a piece on foster-parenting including an anonymous testimony of a friend.

Have you ever considered foster parenting? In the recent debate about adoption, why did the debate focus only on expensive infant adoptions? Why don’t we do more for these kids who have had a hard life? These questions – except being a foster parent as a priest – keep coming up in my mind.

In the past week, there has been some debate about the new tax bill removing the adoption tax credit. Many pro-life organizations such as the Susan B. Anthony List opposed removing this credit. SBA List stated: “This important tax credit helps tens of thousands of families each year offset the steep costs of adopting children.”

Yet there are 126,000 kids in foster care waiting for adoption. Adopting them only costs $0-2500 according to U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. That isn’t that steep a cost: thus far in the debate, the cost of an adoption most commentators use has been $35-40K. That $35-40K is accurate if an adoption is an infant adoption and/or a foreign adoption but those aren’t the only types. Let’s look at how we can help foster kids: both where they are and in finding adoptive parents.

You can read the rest on Catholic Stand.

Silence: A challenging but valuable discipline

I wrote a spiritual reflection on silence for Aleteia:

Not long ago, I did an eight-day silent retreat. In my community we do this every year. Afterward I Tweeted out a short summary: “So often in prayer what really matters is something beyond words: the experience of God above what language can describe. I’d say the greatest fruit of my 8-day was being peacefully alone with God. That is so inadequate but language fails in describing God.”

A true thought, but far from complete. Some people assume that, as I am a priest, silence comes easily to me, but not to them. In reality, cultivating silence is hard for all of us.

But hard things are (often) valuable and worth doing. Nobody in society is going to get after my cousin for spending more than a decade to get a PhD – society realizes that although that’s difficult, it has value. Unfortunately, society often misses the value that comes from living the silence of a retreat.

Read the rest on Aleteia.

Unique Lebanon shows why refugees need safe zones in Syria

I wrote about the issues surrounding Syrian refugees in Lebanon over at Crux.

Most of the attention at the In Defense of Christians (IDC) summit on Christian persecution in Washington on Wednesday surrounded Vice President Mike Pence’s announcement that the U.S. would redirect funds targeted to help persecuted Christians in the Middle East away from UN-sponsored programs and towards faith-based groups.

However, some of the earlier discussions focused on Lebanon, the country in the Middle East where Christians have the strongest public presence, and make up a large proportion of the population, estimated at being over 35 percent of inhabitants.

The IDC summit took place just less than two weeks after Crux’s John Allen and Inés San Martín spent several days in the country meeting some of the 1.5 million refugees from Syria who have fled to Lebanon.

Read the rest on Crux.

Discovering I was a “Catholic Hipster” before that was a thing!

I wrote a book review on Aleteia:

In The Catholic Hipster Handbook, writer Mary Rezac has a chapter on buying from the local farmer’s markets as a way of living the principle of subsidiarity, but she doesn’t go to the extreme of starting your own organic farm. Looking back on my life, I think I might have been a hardcore Catholic hipster for a while — especially the 3 years before entering religious life.  At 16, my parents moved the family out of the city to a farm, which they turned organic.

Around that time, I began taking my faith seriously through media but Canada was, then, something of a Catholic media desert. I discovered I could listen to EWTN on shortwave, so I would go to bed listening to “Life on the Rock” rebroadcasts. The Catholic Hipster Handbook has a chapter on Catholic radio, too.

Yes, I was a Catholic hipster before it was a thing!

Read the rest over at Aleteia.

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