The Quiet Corner
Father John A. Kiley
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English novelist W. Somerset Maugham observed that there is nothing particularly blessed about poverty. He wrote, “Poverty is the surest route to bitterness and resentment.” Maugham’s thought contrasts greatly with the pronouncement of Jesus Christ recorded by St. Luke: “Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours.” Jesus, of course, was thinking of the Palestinian peasant who earned a subsistent living from the land, strengthened by a hardworking family, faithful to his religious traditions and grateful to God for each of his mercies. Maugham on the other hand witnessed the grinding poverty of urban neighborhoods and rural communities. He saw many persons who were spiritually deprived, economically beholden, educationally wanting, often physically addicted, emotionally confused, relationally deficient, and, most likely, sadly neglected. more
The God of the Old Testament was definitely the God of nature. The opening verses of the Book of Genesis are probably a choral presentation chanted during the temple liturgies celebrating God as the author of the heavens and the earth, the sun and the moon as well as the plants and the animals. The God of the Hebrew Scriptures was very much in charge of his universe. Natural wonders continue throughout the pages of the ancient Biblical text. The plagues visited on Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, the manna found daily in the wilderness, the quenching water spilling from the rock, the quail quieting the complaints of the wandering Hebrew nation, the thunder, lightning and clouds witnessed at Sinai – each of these phenomena was appreciated by the Jews as coming directly from the hand of God. He was indeed the God of nature. more
It has been fifty years since the Latin Mass of our youth began its transformation into the vernacular Mass of the present day. This alteration of Catholic worship did not take place all at once. First the old Tridentine Mass was translated wholly into the world’s languages except for the Roman canon which was still prayed in Latin. Then the Novus Ordo, the new order, often known as the Mass of Paul VI, with wider readings, a selection of Eucharistic prayers, and other assorted additions and eliminations, became the Church’s regular liturgy. One especially notable revision was the broadening of the former offertory into the more expressive presentation and preparation of gifts. more
A statement of faith that passes through the lips of Roman Catholics and many other Christians Sunday after Sunday acknowledges the vital mission of the Holy Spirit in salvation history. “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.” This brief creedal formula confesses the Holy Spirit to be truly Divine. He is Lord and Life-giver. These words also admit the Spirit to be worthy of honor and praise equal to the other two Divine persons. The Holy Spirit’s revelatory role in making the mysteries of God fathomable to believers is likewise professed. But in the midst of these tributes to the Spirit of God are three English words “and the Son” (which are actually one Latin word: “filioque”). For reasons both political and doctrinal, this miniscule phrase has divided Eastern and Western Christianity officially for a thousand years and theologically for maybe fifteen hundred years. more
The four Gospel accounts from Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were written perhaps thirty, forty, even fifty years after the events which they relate actually occurred. These four accounts were written possibly in Jerusalem, maybe in Syria, perhaps in Rome or elsewhere. One or two of these narratives were destined for Jewish readership; the other two were destined for Greek, Roman and Gentile circulation. more
It is often reported that young adults don’t go to church, don’t marry and don’t vote. Any pastor can relate that young people disappear shortly after their Confirmation and return when it is time to get married or, more likely today, when they want their first baby baptized. The latest Pew Survey found that while church attendance is off, generally “the main reason for the decrease was due to millennials (18 to 35 year olds) leaving the church.” Pew researchers offer a similar bleak statistic regarding marriage: “If current trends continue, 25% of young adults in the most recent cohort (ages 25 to 34 in 2010) will have never married by 2030. That would be the highest share in modern history.” And the data from the US Census Bureau on voting is not much more encouraging: “In every U.S. presidential election from 1964 on, 18 to 24-year-olds voted at lower rates than all other age groups. In contrast, Americans 65 and older have voted at higher rates than all other age groups since the 1996 election.” more
The sad news from Pew Research Associates that the percentage of Rhode Islanders who claim to be Catholic has diminished to 42% is matched by the equally distressing information that the number of Rhode Islanders who have no religious affiliation at all has increased to 20 percent. more
The solemnity of Pentecost was a Jewish feast day long before Christians began to commemorate the powerful arrival of the Holy Spirit on the Church community at Jerusalem. And truth be told, the Jewish observance of this early summer festival certainly had agricultural roots in the fulfillment that farmers experienced as their early spring plantings came to fruition. This spring planting would have occurred seven weeks earlier around the time of the Jewish feast of Passover and the later Christian observance of Easter. Then the next two months would have coincided with the farmers’ anxious witness of the first sprouts, the lengthening stems, the hardy stalks, the ripe kernels and the successful harvest of sweet rye, wheat, and barley. From a human perspective, the festival that later became Pentecost was a celebration of natural fulfillment, completion, accomplishment. more
The four Gospel accounts from Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were written perhaps thirty, forty, even fifty years after the events which they relate actually occurred. These four accounts were written possibly in Jerusalem, maybe in Syria, perhaps in Rome or elsewhere. One or two of these narratives were destined for Jewish readership; the other two were destined for Greek, Roman and Gentile circulation. more
Father Joseph Egan was a long-time dogmatic theology professor at St. Bernard’s Seminary in Rochester, New York. It was always his contention that St. Luke wrote Acts of the Apostles in order to justify the missionary activity to the Gentiles by St. Paul in light of the prior if somewhat limited outreach to the Gentile world by St. Peter. By the time St. Luke was writing Acts, St. Peter’s stature within the Christian community was acknowledged and respected enough that any precedent St. Peter had initiated could justifiably be cited as reason for other followers of Christ, like St. Paul and St. Barnabas, to venture out into similar even if more extensive challenges and apostolates. Accordingly, St. Luke devotes an entire chapter of Acts to the conversion by St. Peter of the Gentile but God-fearing centurion Cornelius and his household. more
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