Saint Matthew, Apostle and Martyr

Saint Matthew's conversion must be one of the quickest in Scripture. Jesus invited him to follow and he did. There's no indication that he asked Jesus if he could wait until closing time or give him some time to think about it, or flesh-out the 3 year plan.  That Jesus would call a hated tax-collector to be one of his closest associates was bad enough, but then Jesus attended the party Matthew threw in his home with party-goers who were not exactly on the A list of Pharisaical Society. Quite a lot to pray about in this story about call and conversion.

There seems to be little excuse for not accepting Jesus' invitation to discipleship as Matthew did, don't you think?

Matthew Symbol
Matthew Symbol from Book of Kells


Matthew and Angel


Thoughtful Reading for Lent - "Silence" by S. Endo and "Strangers in a Strange Land" by Archbishop Charles Chaput

Those interested in some serious reading for Lent can surely find much to read in the Christian Classics and classic Christian literature, even novels with a Christian theme. 

There are two interesting opportunities for spiritual reflection based on contemporary literature:

Silence, an historical novel by Shusaku Endo written in 1966 is the source for a recently released movie of the same name directed by Martin Scorcese. It details the fate of the Catholics in Japan during the severe persecutions of the 17th century through the eyes of two Jesuit missionaries who arrived in Japan to find their Jesuit mentor who had reportedly apostasized. It was first screened at the Vatican for a select group of Jesuit priests after a meeting between Scorcese and Pope Francis.

The film is R rated for violence and gore. At first the Japanese regime tortured the missionary priests who arrived in Japan; later, they tortured the innocent Christians to coerce the missionary priests into abandoning the faith. I'd recommend the novel over the screen adaptation. Critics think the novel better than the movie and the movie surely requires a strong stomach.

A pivotal image is the ritual of e-fumi in which suspected Catholics were required to trample upon an image of Jesus or the Virgin Mary. Those reluctant to do so were labelled Christians and often tortured or executed unless they abandoned the faith. Some of these images survive: 


17th Century Artifact
Recreation of apostasy in the film adaptation


















A recent publication by Archbishop Charles Chaput, Strangers in a Strange Land: Living the Catholic Faith in a Post Christian World is his latest book dealing with American Catholicism. 

The book may serve as a wake-up call to some who might be surprised to hear a Catholic archbishop call the world, including America "post-Christian" but it will hardly be news to many faithful Catholics who have become more and more disheartened by the direction many of our Catholic educated children and grandchildren are trodding. The book gives encouragement to Catholics, not only because Chaput has the courage to describe our current situation truthfully, but calls on us to live the faith more authentically and prophetically.



The Magnificat Lenten Companion Will Be Available

Once again this year, the parish will have copies of the Magnificat Lenten Companion available after all our masses beginning the Sunday before Ash Wednesday until the supply is depleted. If you would like to be sure to have one, they are also available for purchase from the Magnificat webpage and there is also an electronic version for Kindle, etc.

Many find the daily reflections helpful in cultivating a prayerful disposition during Lent.


Link for printed copy purchase

Link for Kindle edition at Amazon

Take A Catholic Book Home Sunday

Next weekend, in preparation for our move into the new church from the St. Michael Media Room, we will be putting spiritual and Catholic reading material on a donation table. Take them, they're free, although a donation is gratefully accepted.

Fr. Manning will also go through his library once again and supplement the book table with books he doesn't want to move around anymore, especially with so many electronic resources available for homily preparation and spiritual reading.




The Moment One Commits Oneself, Then Providence Moves Too


Johann Wolfgang Goethe
Sometimes attributed to Goethe, but apparently actually written by William Hutchison Murray concerning one of his climbing expeditions to the Himalayas, the complete quotation is inspiring. I have hesitated blogging it for many years, but it has quietly inspired faith-filled dreamers all around the world for decades. I think the first time I encountered the quotation was in seminary when I was reading Goethe's Faust


“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts
of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”1

The Lottery and the Archbishop


Spoiler alert: If you haven't read Shirley Johnson's short story The Lottery, you might want to do so before reading what Archbishop Chaput has to say about its modern interpretation.

It's both fascinating and alarming that Johnson's story fails to predictably raise much contemporary moral indignation. Whereas in previous decades, the creepy juxtaposition of an ancient rite of human sacrifice with Americana New England in the 1940's brought swift condemnation of the practice, its almost too hard to believe that in university settings these days the story meets with a yawn and a "who are we to condemn the villagers of this story?"

Archbishop Chaput of Denver, insists that this change has not come about because the younger generation is cowardly, but because they have lost their moral vocabulary. "Our culture is doing catechesis every day. It works like water dripping on a stone, eroding people’s moral and religious sensibilities, and leaving a hole where their convictions used to be.”

And then this gem:   

“Instead of changing the culture around us, we Christians have allowed ourselves to be changed by the culture. We’ve compromised too cheaply. We’ve hungered after assimilating and fitting in. And in the process, we’ve been bleached out and absorbed by the culture we were sent to make holy.”

“We need to confess that, and we need to fix it,” he asserted. “For too many of us, Christianity is not a filial relationship with the living God, but a habit and an inheritance. We’ve become tepid in our beliefs and naive about the world. We’ve lost our evangelical zeal. And we’ve failed in passing on our faith to the next generation."


We've been determined to change that at Holy Cross, emhasizing weekly mass attendance and developing strong catechetical programs not only in our school, but in our Religious Education Program. Each year more and more of our teachers become trained, not only to manage their classroom effectively, but updated on the central truths of our faith.