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Paul Baumann on George Weigel

Commonweal editor Paul Baumanns review of George Weigels Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21st Century Church is now available at the website of The Nation. Excerpts follow:

When President Obama was invited to give the commencement address at the University of Notre Dame in 2009, more than eighty bishops condemned the university. That a duly elected president of the United States should be regarded as a moral monster unworthy of being given a hearingespecially at a school as steeped in American patriotism as Notre Dameis bizarre. The uproar and the bitter recrimination that followed Obamas speech revealed how deeply divided and directionless the once formidably cohesive American Catholic Church has become. And if George Weigels new book is any indication of where the churchs hierarchy is headed, the divisions promise to grow deeper. Indeed, a good deal of the blame for the bishops belligerent public posture can be laid directly on the desk of the author of Evangelical Catholicism. ...According to Weigel, the evangelical Catholicism of his books title represents a necessary departure from the Counter-reformation or so-called tribal Catholicism of recent centuries. In his view, a Catholicism held together by ethnic affinities possesses neither the fervor nor the missionary commitment needed to meet the challenges of postmodernity. In place of the bricklayer bishops who built a Catholic subculture of schools, hospitals and civic associations across America, whats needed today are bishops like the late John Paul II, men who speak of their faith in compelling, adamantine and fearless ways. These bishops will be disciplinarians, unabashed in demanding doctrinal obedience from priests, women in religious orders and those in the pews. Theologians and politicians who publicly dissent from church teaching must be told that they are no longer Catholic in any meaningful sense. Catholics who do not believe everything the church teaches should leave. (It will be interesting to see how this new breed of priests and bishops responds to the leadership of the recently elected Pope Francis, who seems to take a less confrontational approach to secular culture than Weigel does.) ...Why would Weigel assume that the deep reform of the Catholic Church is relevant to the political and cultural life of most Americans? Because he thinks that, as with Poland under communist domination, Americas fate is now intimately linked to that of Catholicism. The Catholic Church is now the worlds premier institutional proponent of human rights and democracy, he claimsby which he means that the churchs social doctrine offers a principled framework for the preservation of the Wests failing democracies. As far as Weigel is concerned, no other options are available.What to make of these grandiose claims? In one sense, Weigel is repeating what the Catholic Church has always taught. Conversion is what Christianity is about, and so Catholicism, often married to Aristotelian and Thomist notions of natural law and natural rights, remains a vital force in the American political tradition. But the resources of that tradition are broader than the abstract and self-evident truths, invoked by the Declaration of Independence, on which Weigel places such emphasis. The tradition has made use of a variety of philosophical resources, including Enlightenment rationalism, civic republicanism, secular liberal rights theory and pragmatism. It is unlikely we will succeed in forging a more perfect union if we do not make use of all the political resources at our disposal.

You can read the whole thing here. (Update: We earlier noted the inclusion of a link at the end of The Nation's online version of the review; that link has since been removed.)

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PS - a little book I liked by spiritual director William Barry SJ ... God and You: Prayer As a Personal Relationship

Anne C. --Have you read the letters of Mother Theresa? She lived most of her life angry at God because He withdrew from her after her early, intense mystical experiences. During only one other period in her later life was she again aware of His presence so intimately, and it lasted only during a week or so. She went back to being mad a Him because of it. She never denied that she was out and out angry at Him, and I suspect she told Him so regularly ;-) But she never lost her belief in and love for Him. Amazing woman.

Two quick thoughts.First, it is notable that a Catholic in public office has no canonical or theological status different from any other layperson. Concocting a standard for them that is different from other laypeople has no foundation in doctrine. Also true that there is no meaning canonically or otherwise to the phrase 'no longer Catholic "in any meaningful sense."' That is not an excommunication, nor does it correspond to any other canonical penalty. Its bickering about an identity label that has nothing to do with Catholic faith.Second, our core problem is what Fr. Murray wrote in 1966: "No statement on church/state relations issued from Vatican Council II." Despite all the attention given to religious liberty, the deeper problem of the ecclesiological understanding of the Church's relationship to secular law remains unresolved. This is the root of the Fortnight nonsense and all of the other problems in the Chruch's political engagements.

Well, I was surprised by your "quick note" until I looked at the article and saw that the paragraph about Frances Kissling comes ABOVE Baumann's name, making it look as if he wrote it. (Why can't he ask the editors to remove it, or to put it beneath his name?)(I don't find Frances Kissling the least bit scary, but I think it was crude editing by The Nation to add their paragraph to an article by someone else.)-----These bishops will be disciplinarians, unabashed in demanding doctrinal obedience from priests, women in religious orders and those in the pews. Oooh.

These bishops will be disciplinarians, unabashed in demanding doctrinal obedience from priests, women in religious orders and those in the pews. Yeah, that's worked out really well for them...Read this in conjunction with the article on the reorganization of the Archdiocese of Boston, the decline of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, data on the number of young people still active in the church...this has long been George Weigel's argument but it has never made much sense. As we come off 2 decades of bishops as disciplinarians rather than shepherds and teachers, the John Paul II bishops,one has to question whether the Church even has a meaningful role in the modern world. Their focus on sexuality, and the mishandling of sexual crime within their own houses, and abortion to the exclusion of virtually everything else has made them utterly irrelevant. Their involvement in politics in a way that aligns them with right wing Republicans makes them suspect to most moderates and liberals and since the political right ignores them on all things but abortion and related matters of sexuality, they have lost on both counts.

I think Paul is owed an explanation, and an apology, for the addition of that paragraph about Frances Kissling.

I don't see anything about Frances Kissling, so maybe it has been removed.

(It's gone, but how can it be removed from the print edition?)Another article mentioned on that last page, below Baumann's name, is about "evangelical" adoption. A good article, imho. http://www.thenation.com/article/174399/why-christians-me-should-listen-...

Give George a break. He is now accusing Obama of "blasphemy," which apparently means he considers Obama a Christian, albeit a bad one. That's better than many of his cohort...http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2013/05/tribulation-compounded-by...

Thank you, Joe, I appreciate the sentiment. I alerted John Pallatella, the literary editor of The Nation, to my concern about the Kissling link. John very graciously agreed to remove it. I trust regular readers of Commonweal know that I would dispute Kisslings views, especially her views on abortion, as vigorously as I dispute Weigels.That said, I'd like to make it clear that John Palattella and his colleagues were entirely professional in their dealings with me. They did not put any words in my mouth or try to dissuade me in anyway from writing what I wanted to write.

Even after all these years, it's still somewhat surprising that someone like Weigel who considers himself an evangelical Catholic would place such emphasis on abortion, marriage and religious liberty to the virtual exclusion of all other public policy (and human) concerns when two of those three issues are barely mentioned in the gospels.

Paul Baumann:I hope youll respond to this. Id guess that others share the concern Ill express here. You wrote, John Palattella and his colleagues were entirely professional in their dealings with me. They did not put any words in my mouth . . If they added a final paragraph to your piece without first getting your approval, how can that be considered professional? And how is putting words in your article which is what they did -- any different from putting words in your mouth?

Paul, there was a lot in the article that I really appreciated, but I have to say that I was more than a little taken aback by this paragraph:"Those who stay, meanwhile, will come to understand and speak of their faith in an evangelical idiom once considered Protestant. Catholics must not merely know about Jesus, but actually know Jesus himself in a personal way; and so friendship with the Lord Jesus Christ will become as integral to Catholic identity and piety as Sunday Mass and the sacraments. "Do we really want to blanch/consider "Protestant" the idea of "knowing Jesus himself in a personal way"? And is it really only a Protestant notion that "friendship with the Lord Jesus Christ" is integral to Catholic identity and piety as Sunday Mass and the sacraments". With all due respect, it feels as if you are catering to the anti-evangelical sentiments of The Nation readership more than you are to a really considered sense of what Catholics feel and teach about knowing Jesus in a personal way and valuing friendship with him. I wonder, for instance, if those notions aren't at the heart of some of the best Catholic writers these days, people like James Martin and Richard Rohr. Why dismiss those things as "evangelical idiom" or "Protestant"? And anyway, what is wrong if some evangelical idiom and Protestant notions gain currency among us, so long as they are not inconsistent with Catholic teaching and tradition. Are you saying those things ARE inconsistent with Catholic teaching and tradition?As you can tell, I was very disappointed by that section of the article and hope you will rethink or reexplain what you are trying to say there. Certainly there are aspects of evangelicalism that I don't want to see work there way into Catholic thinking, but those two things aren't among them. Are they really among those things that you are afraid of infiltrating the faithful??

Catholics have no friendship with Jesus??? ISTM that Mass is very much about our friendship with Jesus and the rest of the Church community, and polls world-wide show the Mass to be central to the Faith.

Paul: I'll take your word for it that Pallatella et al. dealt with you professionally; but who, then, inserted that paragraph? Did he explain how it happened?

Weigel is no longer within the loop in Rome. He is enormously upset about it. He has lost his forum. He is more like Jerry Falwell than any Catholic. So the irony about being Protestant is there. The one issue Catholics are doing all they can to get Francis on their side and are truly grasping for straws. It may be that the only ones who can help Weigel's cause is those who pay attention to him.

As I have noted before, the irony about the "New Evangelization" is that it exactly what the Second Vatican Council started. Now that the restorationists who fought the Evangelizaion by VAtican II, that Evangelization will take place. The restorationists drove out many of those seeking renewal. Now they want to "re-evangelize them." What they realize is Vatican II was right to begin with and it is the restorationists who drove many out.

Knowing Jesus personally is what Jesuit spirituality is all about.

To add to my point and Ann's and Crystal's, here is a link to a story about a recent talk by Pope Francis entitled "Faith is not Theoretical, but a personal relationship with Jesus, Pope says". http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=17631ANd how is this for a quote from Pope Francis on his second day as pope in an address to religious leaders:"what for every Christian represents the essential: the personal and transforming relationship with Jesus Christ, Son of God, who died and rose for our salvation."http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2013/03/20/full-text-of-pope-franci... Baumann is uncomfortable with the language he cites in the article, I think he is going to be uncomfortable with Pope Francis.

Greg --Might it also be that Francis, who comes from a country where the evangelical faiths are becoming more and more popular, has come to see that the Church must also speak more often with their vocabulary, including "personal" and "relationship"? I'm sure their preaching has not been lost on him. And Weigel might also see this.

I think it is very important to distinguish how Catholics typically frame a personal relationship to Jesus from the manner in which evangelical Protestants do. Evangelicalism tends to emphasize a feeling of being born again, of being convicted of one's sins and redeemed, that Catholicism doesn't place at the core. For Catholics, having a relationship with Jesus is not dependent upon whipping up an emotion in the way it can be in some evangelical traditions. Part of this is the emphasis in the Catholic tradition on a philosophical account of who Jesus is; the Logos or the Second Person of the Trinity. I like Thomas's notion of friendship with God, myself.

Does Evangelical Catholicism have any components at increasing the number of Catholics or is it named ironically?

But my guess is Weigel wants to convert the evangelicals rather than retain Commonweal Catholics. But my sense is here that his influence with a Jesuit Spanish speaking Pope will be minimal.And Poland is fast secularizing and JPII is two popes ago now- and I am not sure that there isn't a more direct financial connection with Maciel than had been seen.I myself don't think he was a saint--too much ego. And I think FSJ may be leery of making Popes saints in principle, since he is reconfiguring the role in a more collaborative way.

Cathleen,The relationship that is fostered with Jesus in the Spiritual Exercises is indeed emotional (Ignatius often mentions tears) and not "philosophical". It's not about Thomistic rationality, it's about direct religious experience. "God Wants Our Friendship" - William Barry SJ ... http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-voices/21st-century-ignatia...

I don't think the relevant experience is the same for all persons.

An interesting discussion about one's friendship/relationship with Jesus.I understood Baumann simply to be pointing out within the limits of a book review Weigel's seeming reliance on "Protestant" notions of the Christian's faith and relationship with God rather than relying on more traditionally Catholic sources---like Igatius, Teresa of Avila, Thomas Aquinas, and any number of other giants of Christian (and specifically Roman Catholic) spirituality.Weigel and company may well view it as a more authentically evangelical and post-Reformation spirituality. By contrast, Baumann does an excellent job, in my view, of pointing out the ways in which Weigel's approach is captive to and/or overly influenced by 19th and 20th century American (specifically) and European (more generally) ideologies of manifest destiny.

Luke,In chapter three of his book, Weigel lays out theological principles of what he calls "Evangelical Catholicism." Among them are:the affirmation of "divine revelation and its authority which continues through history in the teaching authority of the church;""a liturgically centered form of Catholic life that embraces both the ancient traditions of Catholic worship and the authentic renewal of the liturgy according to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council;"the celebration of the seven sacraments "as divinely given means of sanctifying life."In his appreciative and critical review of the book ("Commonweal" April 12), William Portier said: "Despite [the book's] hectoring tone and the particular set of political judgments into which it straitjackets John Paul II, readers ultimately can't afford to ignore Weigel."Coincidentally, the editorial in that same issue of "Commonweal" ("Bridge Builder") contained this challenge: in order to reach out to fellow Catholics "we must look to those among us whose zeal does not merely confirm our biases, but rather the opposite."I presume it wasn't intended as a blurb for Weigel's book. But it fits.

a liturgically centered form of Catholic life that embraces both the ancient traditions of Catholic worship and the authentic renewal of the liturgy according to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council;For those of the pre-Vatican II generations, the "renewal of the liturgy" at times (many times) included a disdain for and mockery of the devotional prayers and practices that had been part of our formation. Developing friendship with Jesus (and with the Holy Ghost, with the BVM and St. Joseph, with the angels and saints, with the souls in purgatory) was easy when our prayerbooks were full of beautiful prayers, novenas, litanies, devotions, etc. The "liturgy," by contrast, could seem cold and remote.The Catholic Girl's Guide, by Father Lasance, is an example: http://archive.org/stream/catholicgirlsgui00lasa#page/n7/mode/2upOne size doesn't fit all, and the "Counsels and Devotions" for some of us in the "Ordinary Walks of Life", the old prayers and hymns were more meaningful than those that replaced them. (I agree with Paul Metzger about that paragraph he quotes from the article and with Crystal Watson about the Spiritual Exercises.)

"I dont think the relevant experience is the same for all persons."True. But the experience to which every person is called, invited is deep, pervasive, ongoing, and evokes a total rupture from the way a person's own impulses might lead. Crystal's testimony is apt.My concern is that Mr Weigel will give the evangelical impulse a bad name. I'm not sure if I should read the book or not. I have a lot of good reading material at bedside. How much time should we spend on politician/biographers who attempt to make something of theology?

Gerelyn, I don't remember The Catholic Girl's Guide but I do remember the prayer books like it. They remind me of the smell of overripe flowers and the mumbles of priests whose Latin was, to say the least, shaky. By contrast, the new prayers and hymns are more meaningful for me. Especially more meaningful was the change of Holy Communion from being an annual mandate under pain of mortal sin to the Eucharist as a daily invitation to walk with Christ.Evangelical Protestants would say, "walk with Jesus." "With Christ" sounds more Catholic to my ear. Different folks become acquainted with Christ in different ways at different times of their lives. Before I would wear a tee shirt saying "Jesus is my homie," though, you'll find me keeping my mouth shut at a Quaker meeting.

Once again, I will betray my ignorance. Many talk about having a "personal relationship with Jesus." Even the Pope observed, "Jesus is a historic person with whom a personal relationship can be formed."Could someone please describe what this kind of "personal" relationship actually is? I know about a lot of people, living and dead, whom I have never met. But I don't have a "personal relationship" with them. Gerelyn refers to formal prayers from a book - but when I have a personal relationship with someone, it involves conversation, not reading words from a book addressed to them. Please explain what a "personal relationship" really is when one of the persons involved died long ago. The evangelicals have tossed this term around blithely for a long time, and now the Catholics are doing the same. But, it is not a "personal relationship" that has any of the characteristics of all other personal relationships (which are two-way among two living people) so exactly what are the characteristics of a "personal" relationship with someone one has never met?

"For Catholics, having a relationship with Jesus is not dependent upon whipping up an emotion in the way it can be in some evangelical traditions. Part of this is the emphasis in the Catholic tradition on a philosophical account of who Jesus is; the Logos or the Second Person of the Trinity."Cathleen - I agree. And I would add that a Catholic approach to evangelizing might also be sacramental. One of the ways we would help people to get to know Jesus is through sacramental encounters. Those might be accompanied by an emotional reaction, but it isn't dependent on emotion.Gerelyn also calls out a form of encounter that we might think of as sacramental - the indirect approach, through personal devotions and paraliturgies. We can get to know Jesus through Mary and Joseph, the Sacred Heart and the Seven Sorrows, Dorothy Day and Mother Teresa and Gianna Beretta Molla.

Cupcake, I have read the book. Or rather I read the first part, and skimmed the last as it was repetitious and not really a very good book. Most of his ideas are not original, and seem mostly to reflect his desire for the church to reflect his own particular selections in the cafeteria, which include keeping women "in their place", and all other interpretations of doctrine that became prevalent with the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict. "Authentic" renewal of the liturgy is one that reflects his personal taste in music and accoutrements during mass. Etc. The church of George Weigel.You asked - "Does Evangelical Catholicism have any components at increasing the number of Catholics or is it named ironically?"It is not ironic at all. He wants all Catholics to go out and evangelize actively in everyday life. He also wants to define "real" Catholics as being only those who agree with his personal definitions, understandings, interpretations and preferences. He wants to formalize his notion that any Catholic who dissents from any teaching or from any aspect of the current structure of "authority" in the church is not a "real" Catholic - their baptism did not really make them "real" Catholics - they have to demonstrate as adults that they are "real" Catholics by conforming to his checklist of beliefs. These dissenting from anything Catholics (which most serious research show to be the majority of practicing Catholics in the pews) should be banished unless they fall into line. So Scott Hahn is a "real" Catholic and Hans Kung isn't.

I don't think it involves a total rupture. Grace perfects nature.

"Evangelical" is a very equivocal word. It can mean "to go out and evangelize actively in everyday life." That is what it seems to mean to Europeans, and what it seems to mean part of the time to Weigel. But in American English, "evangelicalism" not only connotes but denotes a style encompassing Billy Sunday, Billy Graham, Bible waving, the sawdust trail and shouts of "Jesus!" And sometimes Weigel seems to mean exactly that.To older Catholics, the word is going to sound remote from, even antithetical to, Catholicism. The difference is between the Rev. Graham in full flight and Bishop Fulton Sheen with his subtle humor and paradoxes. The difference between sweaty tent performances and sweaty church fish fries with a pitcher of beer on the table (which would never appear at an evangelical event). Between waving one's arms while swaying and kneeling in silence before the Blessed Sacrament. Between ending every sentence with a citation of chapter and verse from the Bible and making distinctions, as Thomas Aquinas was wont to do.I wonder how much of the Catholic half of those comparisons Weigel is comfortable with dumping. Some of that ol' time religion has crept into the Catholic Church perhaps through the southern milieu in which I live but definitely through the charismatic movement. The leaders of the charismatic movement seem to be, in my experience, more orthodox than the average chancery office, but the evangelical "look" pops up in more liturgical settings than it used to.I am not clear how much American evangelism Weigel wants, and which parts of our tradition he wants to abandon to accommodate it. But something is clearly going on along those lines.

One more thing to think about, and I'll shut up: Until the 1960s, American evangelicals were apolitical. A Catholic president worked them up. In their eyes, this country can be peaceful only with Protestant presidents. White ones, too. And male, of course. And so they went from being quiet as church mice to becoming a political force.

Ironically, what this call to evangelical (feeling oriented) approaches by Weigel reminded me of was CCD in the seventies- ha!

Agree, Anne Chapman. The old word "catholic" which meant something for everyone (a cafeteria) has been redefined, and the focus of the Church has narrowed to the point where non-Republicans are unwelcome. A place like St. Benedict's in Atchison, where a priest like Edgar Schmiedeler, OSB, was trained, now invites people like Weigel and Paul Ryan to address the graduates.Here's an article about Fr. Edgar from the Arkansas Catholic, March 21, 1931. Interesting (imho) to see what a diocesan paper looked like in days of yore, compared to what they're like today.http://arc.stparchive.com/Archive/ARC/ARC03211931p01.php

Anne,When "the Pope observed, Jesus is a historic person with whom a personal relationship can be formed"" he was addressing your question. Unlike most historic persons, Jesus is alive and communicates, though he does not do it in the ways most people communicate. The relationship with Jesus is not primarily emotional or intellectual, but a choice to be with someone who chooses to be with you. Because emotions and intellect are more discussable, we often neglect that part of our relationships. The sometimes frenzied emotions of evangelicals are not the center of their religion; the choice to be with Christ is. The intensity of Ignatian exercises is not primarily emotional, or intellectual or even imaginative, it is volition, choice.Once we have made the choice to be in a relationship, Jesus finds ways to communicate with us. Words of Scripture that focus our attention. A breeze that carries the warmth of spring, or a whirlwind that crashes our house. A wordless voice within us that guides us from within.I have no problem having a relationship with my brother, though I only see him every 10 or 20 years. But it is not the same as the relationship I have with my wife, whom I see every day. Different but both strong relationships. And both different from my relationship with Jesus.

@Robert Imbelli (5/18, 7:01 am) Thanks! That's very helpful.On a somewhat separate note, I recall many years ago reading an essay that underscored the commonalities of Pentecostal, Quaker and Roman Catholic worship---primarily that all three place an emphasis on and make room for the presence and movement of the Spirit in ways that many mainline Protestant denominations (with a greater emphasis on the importance of the Word) tend not to.

Once we have made the choice to be in a relationship, Jesus finds ways to communicate with us. Agree. So do the saints, ancestors, historical figures, et al. whom we're attracted to.

I wonder how Weigel feels about the parable of the tares and the wheat. It's what comes to my mind whenever I hear calls for a purer Church.

On the matter of evangelizing and the word "personal," there's this from Scott Cairns: "Moreover, while salvation necessarily happens to persons, it is not to be understood as a merely personal matter. I continue to enjoy, and enjoy repeating, the surprising response that a monk at Simonopetra gave to a man who, thinking he had come to evangelize the Holy Mountain, interrupted us to ask the kind father if Jesus Christ was his 'personal savior.' 'No,' the smiling monk said without hesitation, 'I like to share him.' Thanks to the long-standing tradition that monk manifests, I have a developing sense that salvation finally must have to do with all of us, collectively, and that it must have to do with all else, as well -- all of creation, in fact."See the rest of his post:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/scott-cairns/our-recovered-body_b_721268.html

Would you who have read the book recommend it good enough to bother reading? Life is short and books are many, so sensible advice is desired.Better than "good enough" is Denys Turner's new book on Thomas Aquinas from Yale which I am currently savoring.

I haven't read it, but at Amazon, the sample of the Kindle edition gives the Contents, Prologue, and all of Chapter 1.

Bob Imbelli @ 7:01 quotes from the Commonweal review:'William Portier said: Despite [the book's] hectoring tone and the particular set of political judgments into which it straitjackets John Paul II, readers ultimately cant afford to ignore Weigel.'Can't we afford to ignore Weigel? Really? I think there's no better way to respond to someone who wants to define (or, really, redefine) Catholicism so that it resembles a sect, than to ignore them. We're a church, not a sect. The enthusiasms of some can't and shouldn't define the issues or boundaries for the whole. That Mr. Weigel pays honor to things like the sacramental system and the magisterium doesn't mean he has understood or represented them very well. The term "evangelical" has been applied to a certain stream of post-Conciliar Catholics before, as part of a typology. (Does anyone remember that book? I can't recall the title.) The term betokened an experiential approach to religion and some features of enthusiasm, but within the context of Catholic theological self-identification and normative liturgical practice. But the point was that it was one of several "styles" of appropriating the faith, none of which was being exalted over the others. In fact, it is this more enthusiastic trait in certain Catholic movements that has been vigorously suppressed under the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI (we still don't know enough about Francis to say). What Weigel is looking for is foot soldiers for his culture war, not evangelical Catholics.

Jim P. --EXcellent point about relatioships being *chosen*. They're not just accidental appreciations of someone's surface attractions, those those can be rrelevant. They include choices -- commitments -- to form mutual bonds based on appreciation of deep values. These are friendships. Sadly, the bonds can be strained and even be broken. Sigh.

Rita E. Ferrone,Both John Paul II and Benedict XVI warmly supported the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.

Anne,I'll take a stab at trying to explain the relationship with Jesus thing, though I'm no expert.The Spiritual Exercises is a retreat in which a person spends time learning about Jesus and getting to know him, in part through "gospel contemplation" - a kind of prayer in which a person puts himself into the story and experiences it as if her were there with Jesus - and through "colloquy" - a kind of prayer in which a person imagines having a conversation with Jesus in which they talk to him and he talks to them.The problem that often arises is people worrying that they are making everything up, that these experiences are not real. But if you believe in God and believe in the resurrection, then you're already in "supernatural" territory ... believing that God loves you, wants to interact with you, and that the risen Jesus can and will do this, is not such a leap, after that. A lot of people are uncomfortable with the idea of religious experience. They would feel better if Jesus/God didn't act in the world, could only be found at church and accessed through controlled rituals, but Ignatius of Loyola believed God could be found in all things, that he is always ready to interact with us, whether we are in church or taking a walk in the park. I think it all comes down to what you think and feel about Jesus/God - does he want to and can he interact with us? Here's a video of Fr. James Martin talking about gospel contemplation ... http://youtu.be/PMfwy8nEJV8

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