In my capacity as regional bishop of the Santa Barbara pastoral region, which covers two entire counties north of Los Angeles, I am obliged to spend a good deal of time in the car. To make the trips easier, I have gotten back into the habit of listening to audio books. Just recently, I followed, with rapt attention, a book that I had read many years ago but which I had, I confess, largely forgotten: C.S. Lewis’ “The Great Divorce.”
During election season, we hear a great deal about “following our consciences” and the need for conscience formation. The U.S. bishops offer their guide to faithful citizenship so that the principles of Catholic social teaching might inform our Election Day decisions, and a number of organizations similarly produce a range of voting guides.
St. John Paul II’s teaching on the theology of the body has been the subject of countless publications and widely discussed in Catholic media. Institutes have been formed to train and certify those interested in disseminating the teaching further. It is a beautiful teaching, a gift to the world at a time when human sexuality and human relationships have undergone a truly dramatic upheaval, leaving many of us confused and uncertain about what to think.
The phone call came when I was boiling sweet corn — suppertime on a hum-drum Sunday whose excitement peaked with a trip to the grocery store.
When people are asked how their prayer life is, most will say, “It could be better.” This awareness of our need to spend more time with God is also experienced in our relationships with our spouses and children. While it is true that we need to spend more time with God and our families, we often miss the most important point: the quality of time spent.
On a national scale, it was a rough July, marked by division: shootings, protests, funerals, conventions.
As we commemorate the passing of one year since Pope Francis released his encyclical “Laudato Si’” (“On the Care for Our Common Home”), it is worth reminding ourselves how the pope’s representation of Catholic social doctrine through the lens of “integral ecology” can help us address some of the most challenging socio-political problems of our day, especially as we evaluate candidates in this election season.
In January, I was on a men’s retreat in the Boundary Waters and had to leave early for a family emergency. My 6-year-old son Isaiah, who had a congenital heart defect and other serious health issues, was admitted to the hospital for his 50th — and last — time. He died the following Friday while holding my hand.
There is, in many quarters, increasing concern about the hyper-charged political correctness that has gripped our campuses and other forums of public conversation. Even great works of literature and philosophy — from “Huckleberry Finn” and “Heart of Darkness” to, believe it or not, Kant’s “Critique of Pure Reason” — are now regularly accompanied by “trigger warnings” that alert prospective readers to the racism, sexism, homophobia or classism contained therein.