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THIS is what a vibrant parish looks like

I knew from the get-go that St. John the Baptist Church in Madison, Alabama, was an active and vibrant parish. After all, the people there scooped up 550 copies of my Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Catholic Catechism in order to use it as a text during the Year of Faith. That’s some serious Catholic mojo happening there. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, I received an email a while back asking if I’d be willing to come down and do a series of talks for the parish. That’s typically something that would happen on a diocesan level, at least where I come from, so the fact that a single parish would have the resources and motivation to do this intrigued me. Clearly they get it: If you don’t feed people, they just might walk away. And at St. John the Baptist Church, the people are being fed, and not just tiny scraps but endless buffets of spiritual goodness from what I saw on my recent visit. Read more

Should Eucharist be the only thing that matters?

Over the past few weeks, folks here have talked about the role of Eucharist in their lives and in the liturgy, with a lot of people saying as long as there is Eucharist it shouldn’t matter how lame the rest of the liturgy might be. One commenter went so far as to say that even if Nazis did liturgical dance for an hour, it wouldn’t matter if Eucharist was at the end of it. Yes, someone actually presented that argument. So I thought maybe we needed to talk about this a little more, about Eucharist and how it plays into the life of an average Catholic. Read more

Shepherds who live with the smell of their sheep

I was going through some old posts this week as I was preparing for a radio interview, and I found this post from March 29, 2103. I thought it might be good to re-post it here. Two weeks ago, when I posted about Losing My Religion, many reacted by saying that maybe the priest was just having a bad day, as if my frustration was based on a single episode. And at that point it’s hard to argue without sounding defensive, even though I know what was in my own heart. Then I came across my own post on this exact topic from months ago. Maybe many who have joined the NSS ranks recently haven’t seen it since it’s buried behind many other posts. So here it is again, a reminder that what I’ve been talking about these past weeks isn’t new, isn’t isolated, and has been on the pope’s radar screen since the beginning of his papacy. Here you go: Read more