Category Archives: Virtues

God and Suffering: Remembering the Haitian Earthquake of January 2010

On January 11, 2012, I published this post on Black White and Gray blog “God and Suffering: Remembering the Haitian Earthquake of January 2010.

“Rather than attributing a natural disaster to an individual’s sins or the collective sins of a people, Father Jadotte’s homily emphasized a recurring theme in Catholic social and moral teaching: the people of God are called to build a just world, achieved through a constant conversion that obliges them to keep improving this world even when tremendous obstacles arise.

This homily extends the “theology of grace and hope” I wrote about in Faith Makes Us Live to the latest and probably greatest tragedy in Haitian history. This theology of grace and hope is powerfully illustrated by the picture placed on the altar of Notre Dame, which shows a man in Haiti gazing at the ruins of Sacred Heart Catholic Church. A crucifix remains standing, and at the foot of the crucifix is an image that looks remarkably like the Virgin Mary. The stained glass window behind the picture depicts the Virgin Mary and says in Creole “Mother Mary, you always come to our rescue.”

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Leisure and Worship: A Christmas Message

Published on December 21, 2011, on the Black White and Gray blog. Click here to see the full post.

“Until recently, I thought leisure was what I do when I’m too tired to work. After much prodding, I finally read Josef Pieper’s Leisure the Basis of Culture. While clearly upholding the material and spiritual value of all work, Pieper critiques the modern view of life as “total work.” Although no one really works 24/7, the ideological commitment to “total work”, subscribing to the idea that hard work defines the good life, can be just as harmful as (almost) never taking a break from work.

Why? Because, Pieper masterfully explains, the view that the highest good is found in hard work emphasizes reason and cognition as the only path to knowing. As an intellectual, I rightly prize knowledge. But Pieper challenges us: is knowledge only acquired through arduous mental labor? Pieper asserts:

“The essence of knowledge does not consist in the effort for which it calls, but in grasping existing things and in unveiling reality. Moreover, just as the highest form of virtue knows nothing of ‘difficulty,’ so too the highest form of knowledge comes to man like a gift–the sudden illumination, a stroke of genius, true contemplation; it comes effortlessly, and without trouble.” (p. 34)”

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What do We Pray For?

On October 19, 2011, I published a piece for Patheos on the Black, White and Gray blog entitled:  What Do we Pray for?

“So one day, I finally asked a woman I had been helping tutor English to, who I call Julia in my book, “Julia, what do you ask for when you pray?” Her reply really surprised me. “Ask for?” she queried me in return. “First, I give God thanks for all the things I have. We have to be grateful because we are God’s children.” But surely, I insisted, you must be asking God to help you? “I pray for others first. I pray for peace in the world; for an end to violence. Only when I’m done all that would I ask for what I need.””

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