Rita Ferrone is the author of several books about liturgy, including Liturgy: Sacrosanctum Concilium (Paulist Press).
By this author
At last fall’s Synod on the Family, Archbishop Paul-André Durocher of Quebec asked that the ordination of women as deacons be considered. The suggestion didn’t seem to go anywhere. More recently, however, when a gathering of nine hundred heads of women’s religious communities from around the world (the International Union of Superiors General) raised this question again in May, Pope Francis was interested.
The prologue of John’s gospel has everything: poetry, mysticism, creation, redemption. It is a hymn to the pre-existent Christ, the Word who is “light.” It announces the stunning good news that those who believe can become “children of God.” It celebrates the abundance of the glory we have seen in Christ. It names the lived experience of believers as “grace upon grace.” The emblem of Saint John the Evangelist has traditionally been the eagle, because of the soaring grandeur of the prologue of John’s gospel. Its reputation for graceful flight is well deserved.
Discussions of the state of U.S. Catholicism today often fail to note a worrisome trend: a steep recent drop in the number of adults being initiated into the faith. In fact, adult baptism in the United States fell by a startling 43 percent between 2005 and 2013. And while I think I know the reasons for the decline, I am frankly even more concerned about a certain stagnation of our collective imagination concerning the rite of baptism itself—a sclerosis in our ability to consolidate and implement the important liturgical reforms of Vatican II.
Part of what I love about Catholicism is that it’s a world church.
In a recent post at Pray Tell, guest blogger Frank Klose noted the number and kind of choirs that will sing at the papal Mass for the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. One of the choirs is Vietnamese.
When we look into the eyes of someone sick and suffering, it tests our Christianity. It tests what we’re made of, because it’s hard not to look away. The gaze of compassion, “suffering with” another, does not come easily to most of us. Yet that is precisely what followers of Jesus, the Man of Sorrows, are called to do. It is what “communion” requires—not looking away.
It seems like all my life people have been arguing about the appropriate age of confirmation. Should it be conferred along with infant baptism, as it is in the Eastern churches? Should it be united with first Communion, inspired by the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults? Should it be delayed to the late teen years, young adulthood, or even after marriage? Should it be celebrated in adolescence, as a rite of passage, like a Catholic bar mitzvah?
March 7, 1965, came to be known as Bloody Sunday in the civil-rights movement, as peaceful protesters in Selma, Alabama, were assaulted by police wielding clubs and tear gas. The same day, Pope Paul VI entered All Saints Church in the suburbs of Rome and said Mass in Italian. It was the first vernacular Mass celebrated by the pope in modern times.
In December, I wrote a post here at dotCommonweal about how Pope Francis's leadership is having an impact on the bishops of Spain. The sex abuse scandal in Granada is one of the instances in which Pope Francis's personal initiative has made a difference. The story continues today with an update in the New York Times.
As you may recall, one of the remarkable features of the case was that the Pope himself contacted the victim, identified at the time only by the name of "Daniel," and followed up with him.
As part of the American Historical Association’s convention this year, the American Catholic Historical Association hosted a panel put together by Christopher Bellitto of Kean University. The panel was held January 3rd, in New York. The topic was how church historians can make a contribution through the media. The panel was chaired by David Gibson of Religion News Service, a journalist well known to Commonweal readers. Presentations were given by Rachel Zoll, national religion news reporter for the Associated Press, Enez Paganuzzi television producer at WNBC, Chris Bellitto, and me. The other talks (all excellent) were mostly oriented toward contributing to mainstream media as a source for journalists. Mine (below) was on blogging and writing about specialized topics for a general readership. (Unfortunately I do not have texts of the other presentations.) I welcome further discussion from dotCommonweal's readership.
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