VOICES

Be stouthearted — wait for the Lord

This column is written on the same day I made the unprecedented decision to restrict the public celebration of the Eucharist for the Archdiocese of Seattle. More than likely at the time of this reading, we are still living with this new reality, and the advance of this COVID-19 health threat.

The coronavirus and sitting quietly in a room alone

Blaise Pascal said, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” The great 17th-century philosopher thought that most of us, most of the time, distract ourselves from what truly matters through a series of divertissements (diversions). He was speaking from experience. Though one of the brightest men of his age and one of the pioneers of the modern physical sciences and of computer technology, Pascal frittered away a good deal of his time through gambling and other trivial pursuits. In a way, he knew, such diversions are understandable, since the great questions — Does God exist? Why am I here? Is there life after death? — are indeed overwhelming. But if we are to live in a serious and integrated way, they must be confronted — and this is why, if we want our most fundamental problems to be resolved, we must be willing to spend time in a room alone.

Lent, a time for personal conversion

Over the years, I have noticed that the crowds at Mass on Ash Wednesday rival even Christmas and Easter. There is something attractive about being called to renew our relationship with God, about the penitential nature of the day and of this season that is fundamentally about conversion.

The Ratzingerian constants and the maintenance of harmony in the church

Some years ago, my friend Msgr. Francis Mannion wrote an article concerning the three essential features of the eucharistic liturgy — namely, the priest, the rite and the people. When these elements are in proper balance, rightly ordered liturgy obtains. Further, from these categories, he argued, we can discern the three typical distortions of the liturgy: clericalism (too much of the priest), ritualism (a fussy hyper-focus on the rite) and congregationalism (a disproportionate emphasis on the people). It was one of those observations that just manages to spread light in every direction.