My name is Kevin, and I am a perfectionist.
Some will read this and wonder why I seem to be boasting. Many people think that being a perfectionist is a good thing.
Jean Vanier, a groundbreaking and profoundly influential Catholic activist, died in Paris, France, on May 7, at age 90.
Born to Canadian parents, Vanier told them, when he was 13, that his interest was in naval affairs. Accordingly, he proceeded to prepare for a naval career in England and had spent time with the British Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy by the time World War II ended in 1945, the year he turned 17.
As we survey the highlights and “lowlights” of human history, there is a category of achievements (or achievements’ opposite) which have been classified as “dubious distinctions.”
Especially now that baseball season has started, we may recall the obituary of Randy Jackson, who died on March 20 at age 93. His New York Times obituary noted that he hit the last home run for the Brooklyn Dodgers (Sept. 28, 1957, at Philadelphia) before the team found itself playing home games in Los Angeles. The Times called this a “melancholy achievement.”
I was shocked when, on visiting Ireland at Easter 1981, I discovered that St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin is Anglican (“Church of Ireland”), not Roman Catholic!
I did, however, find some consolation at this cathedral.
I had written my first high school term paper on a portion of Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift (born at Dublin, 1667; died at Dublin, 1745). When I wrote the term paper, I consulted a number of commentaries on the book; what I did not do was read a biography of Swift. I kept wondering why the commentaries referred to him as “Dean Swift.”
You may remember my mentioning, in 2016, a professor of New Testament named Amy-Jill Levine. I have been thinking about her Jewish perspective on how Christians respond to their own Scriptures, and I remember especially her question to Christian pastors: “Do you know the Bible, or just the lectionary?”
First of all, you and I as Catholic Christians can take great pride in the 50 years that we have had our Sunday lectionary, which allows us to proclaim the Scriptures on a three-year cycle, and the weekday lectionary, which has a two-year cycle for Ordinary Time and a one-year cycle for the other seasons. Our lectionary is the basis for Sunday lectionaries which have been adopted by numerous Christian denominations.
With ever greater frequency, it seems, I hear people talking about the items on their “bucket lists.”
This term refers to the things one feels called upon to do before “kicking the bucket.”
Over the last weekend, I heard from a parishioner who had just attended a Sabbath service at a St. Louis-area synagogue. This first Sabbath of November was also the first Sabbath since the killing of 11 worshipers at a synagogue in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27. There was, in fact, an emphasis on interfaith Sabbath participation in many synagogues. My parishioner had never previously been present for a Jewish worship service, and she found it uplifting, for a couple of reasons: an awareness that our Christianity sprang from Judaism, and the encouragement coming from people of many religions at a time of grief.
Pope Francis’s extraordinary Aug. 20 letter “to the People of God” undoubtedly inspired many people around the world to seek out this letter — published in seven languages only six days after the Pennsylvania grand-jury report — on the Vatican website.
By visiting w2.vatican.va/content/vatican/en.html, you will have before you a most valuable English “portal” to the contents of the site.
Here is a very quick summary of the stance of the Catholic Church on the death penalty. This review is necessary because of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s recent proposal to reinstate capital punishment — abolished in Illinois in 2011 — for persons convicted of mass killings or the homicide of a law-enforcement officer. I write as one who, many years ago, testified before a committee of the Illinois General Assembly about the evolving teaching of the Catholic Church on this topic.
Two weekends ago I enjoyed two different cultural efforts: a concert by the Heartland Community Chorus at St. Jerome Church in Troy (this concert was repeated at Highland St. Paul), and the performance of Annie Jr. by the Drama Club of St. John Neumann School in Maryville.
Over many years, I have learned to appreciate the skills and attention needed to sing and act effectively. As a presider at worship, of course, I am always putting my singing into service. And although it has been 20 years since I last performed in a theatrical production, the proclamation of the Word of God always calls for a sense of drama.