I hope you’re all enjoying your Sunday. If you’re looking for some music to jam to, something that explores some of the biggest questions of life with a Christian heart, I’ve got a recommendation for you: Mumford and Sons.

They’re not Christian themselves (or, at least, don’t claim to be¬†any more) but the band has a strong Christian background and you can’t deny the overwhelming influence the faith has had on their music. Just take a look at some of the names of their songs: Babel (Genesis), Rose of Sharon (Song of Songs), Thistle and Weeds (parable in the Gospels), Roll Away Your Stone (Lazarus, Jesus), Broken Crown (of Christ), Timshel (literally “thou mayest” in Hebrew), The Cave (reference to St. Francis of Assisi),¬†Believe, Awake My Soul, Lover of the Light. Even in songs that are not specifically¬†about the Bible or faith, their way of expression is the language of faith (Babel is about putting on false selves and failing to communicate, a call to take off the mask and tear down the wall. What better way to capture this situation than to invoke the tower of babel?)

When I listen to their music, what I hear is a band that once knew faith quite well, that was excited for the mission of Christ. And then the world happened. And then doubt crept in. (And then being labeled “a Christian band” and being associated with the Christian Music Industry would have killed their success.) So they say publicly that they are people of that don’t consider themselves a part of the Church. Who am I to judge, but I still think they have Christian hearts influencing everything they do. Just because you hit a patch of doubt and go on a wayward journey doesn’t make you no longer a Christian.

No matter what they say, I think they’re furthering the mission of Christ. Subtly, they are opening the door for people who would never come to Church to engage with topics like faith and doubt, sin and grace, shame and redemption, hope and despair. You don’t need to use the name Christ for the mission to grow, and I think they’re doing just that: helping it grow.

Are Marian Apparitions Real?

It is not an uncommon experience for me to get a message from someone asking about the prophecy of Mary or some saint. Generally, they’re terrifying. Mary is nothing like the docile, “do unto me according to your will” mother that we find in the Bible, but is much more a tyrant usurping her son’s throne to inflict some harm.

It’s easy for most of us to dismiss these things as fabrications or the work of the paranoid, but how do we respond to these things? Surely, there must be an objective way to evaluate such apparitions for some semblance of authenticity.

In fact, there is! In this week’s Catholicism in Focus, I look at the Church’s standards to evaluating miraculous encounters and what they mean for us.

Believe it or not, this was one a controversial question. Today, many “mixed marriages” take place every year, joining together people of different faiths into one. While it may seem commonplace and routine today, this is only because of major shifts in the Church’s approach to ecumenism, leading to a reform of the liturgy.

If you’re preparing for your own wedding today, the USCCB has some great resources for you to use.

 

Last year, the big question I got everywhere I went was, “What’s next? Where are you going to be assigned?” I must have answered “I don’t know” 1000 times over the course of a year, waiting myself to hear my fate. How great it was when I finally heard that I would be going to the University of Georgia, that I would end my continuous journey of changing houses every year! At last, I could settle in a bit and get to know my surroundings…

Sike!

Today, I find myself in the same position as before, only this time with less to go on. Whereas I was the only piece moving a year ago, right now I am but one of 250 friars awaiting word about their future. You see, every three years, technically speaking, our assignment dissolve and we must be reassigned for another three years. Practically speaking, the majority of people stay where they are, and so there isn’t much fanfare. But they still need to get confirmation. With the spread of a pandemic postponing our chapter, this decision is also getting postponed.

So, what’s next? I’m not sure. And believe it or not, I’m okay with that right now.