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Estás destinado a ser un águila, no una gallina: Una reflexión sobre el Bautismo

Cuando ejercía a tiempo completo el ministerio parroquial, una de mis actividades favoritas era hacer bautismos. Puse “bautismos” en plural, porque casi nunca bautizaba a un solo bebé a la vez, pero normalmente eran diez o una docena. Típicamente, el grupo bastante grande de familiares y amigos se reunía en los primeros bancos de la Iglesia de San Pablo de la Cruz alrededor de las 2 de la tarde de un domingo, yo les daba la bienvenida y hacía una breve descripción de lo que estaba a punto de suceder, y entonces la feliz cacofonía de doce bebés llorando a la vez comenzaba inevitablemente. Yo llegaba a hacer los bautismos, con todas sus oraciones, a gritos, y al final todo el mundo estaba feliz. Ahora que soy obispo, tengo menos ocasiones de bautizar, y las echo de menos. Pero la semana pasada hubo una excepción, cuando tuve el placer de…

A Chapter that Changed My Life: “Love and Responsibility”

In the nineties, the True Love Waits movement was making its way through youth groups around the world. Young men and women signed small cards, vowing to commit their sexual purity to God and to pray for all of those who had sinned sexually. The movement spurred purity rings, songs, books, and more.  In the same decade, the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris became a bestseller, to date selling over a million copies which is a great feat for any Christian work. In 2018, Harris retracted his former beliefs in dating and asked for the publisher of the book to halt any reprints. More on that later. The book and the movement were a large part of what we now know as “purity culture” and it was a very big part of my…

God Is Immanent—and You Get to Be His Tabernacle

Sometimes it can feel like God is so far away. Why? Sure there is the obvious, “Well, I’m a sinner.” But sometimes God feels far away even when we’re in a state of grace. Why does he do this to us? After all, in a solemn moment of self-revelation, God manifested himself in a burning bush and gave Moses his name, “I AM WHO AM.” Then, while the Israelites were stuck in the desert, God did the unthinkable and came to dwell among them—not in an Athenian temple or a Roman basilica but in the tabernacle of a movable tent. There, God was close to his people, remaining with them and guiding them by night and by day. And if this wasn’t enough, God desired an even greater proximity to his people. So “the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us” (John 1:14). In the Incarnation,…

A Sick Dog and a Lesson in Communion of All Types

So, there was a morning where I stumbled out of bed, put the coffee together, and made a soft-boiled egg for the sick dog, who by then should have been trying food. It being a hungry sort of day, I made one for myself too. The dog watched me create her egg-and-bread, then turned up her nose at it when I placed it before her. As I prepared my own egg, letting the lovely hot yolk drip over a piece of crumbled bread, I gently tried to coax the pooch into eating. “You must get strong,” I said. “I can’t give you your medicine in those yummy pill pockets unless you eat . . .” I dipped my spoon into my own breakfast, and it tasted good, so I knew there was no reason for my best pal to refuse her own. She was watching my every move, because, well…

The Book of Exodus and Why Coming Back to Mass Matters

In connection with an academic project of mine, I’ve recently been poring over the book of Exodus and numerous commentaries thereupon. The second most famous book of the Old Testament is concerned primarily with the manner in which God shapes his people so that they might become a radiant beacon, a city set on a hill. On the biblical reading, Israel is indeed chosen, but it is never chosen for its own sake, but rather for all the nations of the world. I would say that this formation takes place in three principal stages: first, God teaches Israel to trust in his power; secondly, he gives Israel a moral law; and thirdly, he instructs his people in holiness through right praise. The lesson in trust happens, of course, through God’s great act of liberation. Utterly powerless slaves find freedom, not by relying on their own resources, but rather upon the…

El libro del Éxodo y por qué volver a la misa es importante

En relación con un proyecto académico mío, recientemente he estado estudiando el libro de Éxodo y numerosos comentarios al respecto. El segundo libro más famoso del Antiguo Testamento se ocupa principalmente de la forma en que Dios da forma a su pueblo para que se convierta en un faro radiante, una ciudad situada en una colina. En la lectura bíblica, Israel es elegido, pero nunca por su propio bien, sino por el de todas las naciones del mundo. Diría que esta formación se lleva a cabo en tres etapas principales: primero, Dios enseña a Israel a confiar en su poder; en segundo lugar, le da a Israel una ley moral; y tercero, instruye a su pueblo en la santidad a través de la alabanza justa. La lección de confianza ocurre, por supuesto, a través del gran acto de liberación de Dios. Los esclavos totalmente impotentes encuentran la libertad, no confiando…

Canceling Padre Serra

I have just received word that, after voting to remove a large statue of St. Junípero Serra that stands in front of their City Hall, the government of Ventura, California (which is in my pastoral region) is now considering removing the image of Padre Serra from the county seal. This entire effort to erase the memory of Serra is from a historical standpoint ridiculous and from a moral standpoint more than a little frightening. Let me address the ridiculous side first. To state it bluntly, Junípero Serra is being used as a convenient scapegoat and whipping boy for certain abuses inherent to eighteenth-century Spanish colonialism. Were such abuses real? Of course. But was Fr. Serra personally responsible for them? Of course not. I won’t deny for a moment that Serra probably engaged in certain disciplinary practices that we would rightfully regard as morally questionable, but the overwhelming evidence suggests that…

Cancelando al Padre Serra

Acabo de recibir la noticia de que, después de votar para retirar una gran estatua de san Junípero Serra que se encuentra frente a su ayuntamiento, el gobierno de Ventura, California (que está en mi región pastoral) está considerando ahora la posibilidad de retirar la imagen del Padre Serra del sello de la ciudad y de las insignias de los oficiales de policía de Ventura. Todo este esfuerzo por borrar la memoria de Serra es desde el punto de vista histórico ridículo y desde el punto de vista moral más que un poco aterrador. Déjenme abordar el lado ridículo primero. Para decirlo sin rodeos, Junípero Serra está siendo utilizado como un conveniente chivo expiatorio de ciertos abusos inherentes al colonialismo español del siglo XVIII. ¿Fueron reales esos abusos? Por supuesto. ¿Pero fue el Padre Serra personalmente responsable de ellos? Por supuesto que no. No negaré ni por un momento que…

Martin Luther King and the Religious Motivation for Social Change

A principal reason why the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s was so successful both morally and practically was that it was led largely by people with a strong religious sensibility. The most notable of these leaders was, of course, Martin Luther King. To appreciate the subtle play between King’s religious commitment and his practical work, I would draw your attention to two texts—namely, his Letter from the Birmingham City Jail and his “I Have a Dream” speech, both from 1963. While imprisoned in Birmingham for leading a nonviolent protest, King responded to certain of his fellow Christian ministers who had criticized him for going too fast, expecting social change to happen overnight. The Baptist minister answered his critics in a perhaps surprising manner, invoking the aid of a medieval Catholic theologian. King drew their attention to the reflections of St. Thomas Aquinas on law, specifically Thomas’ theory…

Martín Luther King y la motivación religiosa para el cambio social

Una de las principales razones por las que el movimiento de los derechos civiles de las décadas de 1950 y 1960 tuvo tanto éxito, tanto en el plano moral como en el práctico, fue que estuvo dirigido en gran medida por personas con una fuerte sensibilidad religiosa. El más notable de estos líderes fue, por supuesto, Martín Luther King. Para apreciar el sutil juego entre el compromiso religioso de King y su trabajo práctico, me gustaría llamar su atención sobre dos textos, a saber, su Carta desde la cárcel de la ciudad de Birmingham y su discurso “Tengo un sueño”, ambos de 1963. Mientras estaba encarcelado en Birmingham por liderar una protesta no violenta, King respondió a algunos de sus compañeros ministros cristianos que le habían criticado por ir demasiado rápido, esperando que el cambio social se produjera de la noche a la mañana. El ministro bautista respondió a sus…