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I look at my students and see our future ex-Catholics

My post over at Aleteia today:

When it comes to teenagers, you expect a certain amount of eye rolling and apathy, but put those same kids in a faith formation class for an hour and fifteen minutes at the end of a long school day and right at the dinner hour and you’ll see a level of teenage disinterest that could make you wither on the spot. That’s what my husband and I faced when we stood before the 21 high school sophomores we teach at our upstate New York parish. Read more

Why do I stay in this Church?

“Why do you remain a Catholic?” That was the challenge issued by Elizabeth Scalia (aka The Anchoress) via Facebook this week, calling me (among many other Catholic writers) out by name. Never one to refuse a good challenge, I started to ponder that question as I headed out to meet Dennis for date night at The City Beer Hall in Albany. As we sat at the bar, sipping our Chatham Maple Amber, Dennis reminded me that I had already written my own blog post on this very topic more than a year ago. (I’m glad someone remembers what I write!) Sure enough. I went back and found my own take: “Why Am I Still Here? In this Church, that is.” Read more

Bishop Scharfenberger reflects on a year in Albany

Bishop Edward Scharfenberger of Albany marks his first anniversary as spiritual leader of our Capital Region diocese tomorrow, April 10. By clicking on the photo below, you can watch a wide-ranging interview with Geoff Redick of Time Warner Cable News Capital Region on the bishop’s first 12 months at the helm of this 10,000-square-mile diocese serving 330,0o0 Catholics — from pizza and prayer, to challenges and changes. Read more

‘May it be done to me according to your word’

AnnunciationAnd the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.

And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.”

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.  – Luke 1:35-38

Happy Feast of the Annunciation!

(Annunciation window in Lady Chapel of St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Delmar.)

What is Church to you? My bishop’s thoughtful take

So often when Dennis and I are standing in front of our ninth-grade faith formation class, our goal is to not only teach our students the truths of our faith but to show them that the Church is more than its teachings, more than its buildings, more than what most of us imagine it to be.

For too many of us, Church becomes something belonging to someone else, a place we visit but don’t always choose to live. When we start to see Church not as a location but a state of heart and mind, that’s where transformation begins.

This past week Bishop Edward Scharfenberger of Albany had a great column that tackled that very subject in such a beautiful way. Read more

Albany’s new bishop sets a warm, welcoming tone

Just a few words on yesterday’s ordination and installation of Bishop Edward Scharfenberger of Albany. It was a spectacular Mass, even from the distant and somewhat obstructed view of the spiritual equivalent of the cheap seats. We were in the farthest reaches of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, but that didn’t dampen the joyful spirit. The folks around us were a fun and chatty bunch, and we got to know them a bit seeing as we arrived 90 minutes early with our coveted tickets in order to get even one of those cheap seats. This was the place to be in Albany yesterday afternoon, and for good reason. The beautiful two and a half hour Mass was so filled with ancient ritual and uplifting words, song, and ceremony that it was impossible even for this sometimes-jaded 30-year veteran of the Catholic press not to be moved to tears.  Read more

Pregnant Montana teacher deserves to keep her job

Either we’re pro-life or we’re not pro-life, and firing an unwed pregnant Catholic school teacher is not pro-life no matter how you slice it. I don’t care what her contract said. I don’t buy the notion that children will be scandalized. None of it washes. Let’s face facts. We are all sinners. Some of us, unfortunately, sin in ways that are much more public than others, and so we are called out while everyone else slides by with their private sins rolling merrily along. Read more

Why am I still here? In this Church, that is.

I’m just going to come right out and say it because I know some of you are probably feeling the same way and maybe even feeling guilty about it: Why am I still here? In this Church. Why? I am struggling, I mean STRUGGLING with the latest sex abuse cover-up news coming out of the Archdiocese of Chicago. As I read the news story today, I could feel my heart sinking and then hardening and then breaking. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to cry or scream or walk away, or possibly all three at once. Read more

Pope Francis on the “leprosy of the papacy,” the leaven of love, and the feminine Church

This time Pope Francis is talking with Italian newspaper La Repubblica. Second interview, just as fascinating, 4,600 words bearing the headline “Pope Francis: how the Church will change.” The pope called to set up the interview himself with Eugenio Scalfari, the atheist with whom he (now famously) exchanged letters. Read more