Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The New Know-Nothings

America
(CNS photo)
It was a time of great economic uncertainty and political turmoil. The next election promised to move the nation closer to a terrible precipice, and the native-born were frustrated by their diminished status, one accelerated by an apparently endless flow of newcomers who seemed destined to dislocate and replace them. Cries of “America for Americans” rose across the anxious republic.

At the hour of our death


At the hour of our death

The Tablet

22 September 2016 | by Jonathan Riley-Smith | Comments: 0 Before he died on 13 September after a long illness, a distinguished historian wrote this advice to others who are dying
Death is not only unavoidable but necessary; and how we die is, at least in part, determined by our choices. If, like me, you are faced by terminal illness, be thankful that you have not died suddenly. You may have been one of those who, in the belief that they would be spared suffering, wanted to pass away quickly and without warning. If so, you have been ignoring the effect that such an event would have had on your family, the chaos you would certainly have left behind and the burdensome and expensive work of tidying up that would have been imposed on others. You have been privileged and it is important that you should make use of this grace to set your affairs in order.

If you are, like me, a Christian, you have been given the opportunity to prepare yourself to meet your creator. Catholics have always prayed to be spared “a sudden and unprovided death”. Bear in mind that God has some purpose for you. Take full advantage of the sacraments. Establish a pattern of regular prayer, but do not give way to over-enthusiasm. It is better to begin modestly and to build further if you find it desirable.

Be glad, too, that the warning you have had will allow you to come to terms with your condition. You must try to be at peace. A good death can provide comfort to your family, but it needs a contribution from yourself as well as the assistance of medicine. This is hard advice. It is easier for old men like me to follow it than for the young, who are bound to feel unfairly treated by providence. Nevertheless, you must be reconciled to your end as far as is possible. Avoid anger or regrets. Do not despair. Enjoy the life left to you and be grateful for it.

This will prove to be easier than you expected. You will have found already that, in the moments after you heard the doctors’ report, any idea of a future was driven from your mind. No other option was left to you than to live day by day. I was astonished to find how quickly I came to terms with this. I should have lived every moment as though it was my last throughout my life, but I had pursued my career on the assumption that I would survive almost for ever. Now, with the evaporation of the future, the present moment became so precious that I wondered why I had let it fly by. My senses were intensified. My curiosity was sharpened. The beauty of natural objects and the vividness of my surroundings were enhanced. You will discover yourself embracing this vision, which is the one we had as children, lost with age and have now recovered. It is exhilarating and rewarding.

The annihilation of your future should not prevent you from setting yourself some short-term goals. These can be related to your work, to your interests, or to the issues that you do not want to leave unresolved on death. Write your memoirs. Take up painting. You must remain active and involved as long as you can.

Do not let the acceptance of death become a surrender to it. We all dread the prospect of pain. Modern medicine cannot entirely relieve us of it, although my experience is that it can be made bearable and that, as so often in life, expectations are worse than reality. Of course there are cases where death is agonising or where a neurological disorder gradually deprives a victim of all senses or where an active man or woman finds the prospect of dependence on others unbearable. One hears regularly of those for whom life has become so atrocious that they want a legitimate means to end it. Their despair and the compassionate support of their carers are understandable and moving, but life is a precious gift from God and as Christians we believe that we have no right to dispose of it as we please. And whether or not we are attached to a religion, it is counter-productive for most of us to believe that we should be able to end our lives at will. There are dangers in manufacturing its closure, however attractive this may seem to be.
A feature of the condition in which we find ourselves is that we are often subjected by well-meaning relations and friends to bizarre advice and quack remedies. Do not allow yourself to be tempted by nostrums that never work and make our reconciliation to our illness harder by presenting us with apparently easy solutions. It is cruel to offer forlorn hope in this way. It is best for us to follow the advice of doctors, whose treatments are at least based on science.

We are all drawn to the extraordinary at the expense of the mundane, because, although some of us abandon faith altogether, many of us at least half believe that there is more to life than material existence and in crises turn beyond ourselves. In the initial stages of my disease it was not my religion that comforted me; it was the recognition of my condition that heightened my attachment to my religion. In other words, that yearning for something beyond myself found expression in the strengthening of my faith. In the end, of course, faith and illness become so intertwined that each becomes part of the other.

Remember that all your life has been a preparation for an event which is as significant as your birth and is far more important than any birthday. You are about to pass on to another plane and into another world. There may still be time to draw some comfort from memories of your earthly past, provided that you do not become consumed by unnecessary guilt. What happened long ago is over and done with, although it is good to make peace with anyone you have offended.

Treat your death as a celebration. Take an interest in it. Plan your funeral as carefully as you would the wedding of one of your children. Take care to leave your closest relations with good memories of your ending. Your fortitude will ensure that they will remember you with pride and affection, and that they will pray for you. Remember that death is no barrier to prayer.

Jonathan Riley-Smith was a historian of the Crusades, and a Dixie Professor of Ecclesiastical History. He was also a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. His Requiem Mass will be at Our Lady and the English Martyrs, Hills Road, Cambridge on Tuesday 27th September at 12.15pm.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

CONSTRUCTING A NEW THEOLOGY OF WOMEN

CONSTRUCTING A NEW THEOLOGY OF WOMEN
US Catholic

How can a church with all-male leadership develop the "deep theology of women" Pope Francis called for? Step one: Ask women.


http://www.uscatholic.org/articles/201501/constructing-new-theology-women-29662

IS THE RISE OF “NONES” ACTUALLY THE DECLINE OF CATHOLICS?


IS THE RISE OF “NONES” ACTUALLY THE DECLINE OF CATHOLICS?

UNITED STATES
Religion Dispatches
BY PATRICIA MILLER
SEPTEMBER 26, 2016
The Public Religion Research Institute is out with another fascinating report on one of the most significant religious trends of our time: the dramatic rise in disaffiliation, or, as some call them, the “nones.”
PPRI found that a fully a quarter of all Americans, and a whopping 39% of young adults, now say they have no religious affiliation, making the unaffiliated the largest “religious” group in a country long known for its high levels of religiosity.
And while the rise of the “nones” will continue to make headlines and shape culture for a long time to come, there is another largely unnoticed trend lurking in the numbers: just how much the growth in the nones has been fueled by the disaffiliation of Roman Catholics. According to PPRI:
While non-white Protestants and non-Christian religious groups have remained fairly stable, white Protestants and Catholics have all experienced declines, with Catholics suffering the largest decline among major religious groups: a 10-percentage point loss overall. Nearly one-third (31%) of Americans report being raised in a Catholic household, but only about one in five (21%) Americans identify as Catholic currently.
The Catholic rate of disaffiliation dwarfs the rate for any other faith tradition; the next biggest “loser” in terms of disaffiliation are the mainline Protestant denominations, which saw a 4.5-point loss, while white evangelical denominations saw a net drop of only 2.2 points, largely because they have both a lower rate of disaffiliation and a fairly robust rate of new adherents.

Pope challenges Jesuits, say South Asians

Pope challenges Jesuits, say South Asians

ncr

As the Society of Jesus prepares to elect a new superior general, its South Asia unit hopes for a leader to help address the challenges from Pope Francis.

Catholic Church alleges smear campaign against slain priests

Catholic Church alleges smear campaign against slain priests

Crux: Covering all things Catholic - ‎6 hours ago‎
MEXICO CITY - Mexico's Roman Catholic Church is criticizing what it considers a campaign to smear three murdered priests by suggesting they were involved in questionable behavior.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Hubert Jedin changed the paradigm for church historians

Hubert Jedin changed the paradigm for church historians

ncr

 | 
Take and Read: History of the Council of Trent broke Catholic taboo in its treatment of the difficult and uneasy relationship between pope and bishops.

Pope Francis came to America not to lecture, but to inspire

Pope Francis came to America not to lecture, but to inspire

Crux: Covering all things Catholic - ‎7 hours ago‎
Instead of using his visit to America to strictly lecture politicians and the public about the moral failures of a nation that has drifted far from upholding Catholic ideals about life and family, Francis offered us something to aspire to. In pointing ...