Thursday, June 28, 2012

CERC & thesis passed!


The website called Catholic Education Resource Center is an excellent source of articles on topics of all kind, from abortion to world religions. Calling it a website seems to shortchange the quality of editorial effort that goes into producing and organizing CERC's content. It's more a refined aggregator of articles, columns and editorials of note from around the world. The chief editor, Mr. Fraser Field, has a discerning eye and is very selective of what pieces make it to his roster.

Notwithstanding the high bar, CERC was kind enough to include a little piece of mine called "The Recovery of Focal Practices", in which I discuss the theories of Albert Borgmann on how to discern and live with our new technologies and devices. It's a theme I treat in my master's thesis, "The Recovery of Silence", which was recently accepted and passed by the readers at the Toronto School of Theology -- deo gratias!

You can also download the audio .mp3 of the article by right-clicking on the link called "listen" at the article page which is here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hearts on Fire in Dallas


The first Hearts on Fire retreat was last weekend. It's taken me this long to blog about it, since we needed some time to rest and get photos back, and basically let the experience settle in. Dallas has proved to be a hospitable first stop, from the Jesuit communities at Jesuit Prep High School and Montserrat Retreat Centre at Lake Dallas where we stayed, various families, and the parishioners at St. Ann's Parish which hosted our retreat.

St. Ann's is the fifth largest parish in the United States, with 30,000 members. It is a campus. The parish complex literally includes a former strip mall with clock-tower and parking lot, a massive gold-domed church, a plaza with fountain, and halls and auditoria galore. The church employs four full-time youth ministers. I had never seen a Catholic mega-church before, but this was it!


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

For Greater Glory

Taking advantage of my American sojourn, I went see the film For Greater Glory in the cinema, as it looks like it will not be playing in Canada, and its U.S. run is winding up. I'm glad I did. The film is emotionally moving and engaging notwithstanding its 2.5 hour length. It chronicles the Cristero War in Mexico (1926-29), which took place when the government of Plutarco Calles began enforcing the anticlerical laws of Mexico's 1917 constitution. Religious observance was essentially outlawed, foreign priests were expelled and many clergy murdered and altars smashed. Eventually, the people organized themselves into an armed resistance.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Ten Secular Songs with Religious Themes

While preparing songs for our retreats and coffee house ministries this summer, I have come across many by secular artists -- that is, musicians who don't self-categorize as belonging to genres of religious music -- which were nonetheless powerfully spiritual. This is my top ten list from past and present.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Jesuits in St. Louis

Happy Feast of the Sacred Heart, live from "the Sacred Heart convention" -- that is, the national gathering of the Apostleship of Prayer in St. Louis, Missouri. The AoP is not a movement in itself, but considers its mission as inspiring other groups, to animate and act as leaven by assisting people in their spiritual lives. Here, over the past week, I have met many inspiring Jesuits from all walks of life.

Excellent talks were given by national director Fr. James Kubicki, S.J., my team leader and director the youth and young adult wing, Fr. Phil Hurley, as well as Fr. Claudio Barriga, the Director General Delegate of the AoP in Rome.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

The Resurrection of William Kurelek

By John D. O'Brien, S.J.

It is difficult to think of a Canadian artist more praised and more polarizing than William Kurelek. His phenomenal eruption upon the art scene in the 1960s and 70s was at odds with the more dominant abstract trends of the day: his paintings were pastoral, humorous, human, even naïf. Still more unusual, they often contained religious imagery. But Kurelek – both the man and his work – was unforgettable, which is why, after a near eclipse during recent decades, the reappearance of his work in a major cross-country exhibition bears scrutiny.