Opinion

It’s her cathedral. But somehow, Our Lady has been forgotten
It's beautifully significant that the rose window, symbolising her receptivity to God, survived the fire
Benedict’s statement lays bare the Church’s divisions
He must have felt he was saying something absolutely vital that was going unsaid
How to tell Christ from Antichrist
As a physicist, I have no trouble believing in the Resurrection. But there is a deeper theological mystery
What would the Passion sound like? Listen to Liszt’s answer
The composer's revolutionary masterpiece was created in a monastery outside Rome
Newman is a perfect companion for Holy Week
Newman’s prayers are a rare combination of theological depth and literary quality
Jewish rock-n-roll journo describes her path into the Church
[Editor’s Note: Dawn Eden Goldstein, whose previous books include The Thrill of the Chaste and My Peace I Give You, began her writing career as a rock and roll historian, using the pen name Dawn Eden. In the 1990s, she contributed to Billboard, the Village Voice, Mojo, and Salon and co-wrote The Encyclopedia of Singles. She went on to work in editorial positions at the New York Post and the Daily News. At the age of thirty-one, Goldstein, who was raised Jewish, experienced an encounter with the divine, which began a personal transformation that would eventually lead her to enter the Catholic Church. In 2016, she became the first woman to earn a doctorate in sacred theology from the University of St. Mary of the Lake. She is an assistant professor of dogmatic theology in the online division of Holy Apostles College and Seminary and lives in Washington, D.C. Charles Camosy recently spoke to Goldstein about her new memoir, Sunday Will Never Be the Same: A Rock & Roll Journalist Opens Her Ears to God.] Camosy: I’ve not done one myself, but I hear that for many who decide to write a memoir there is a moment which pushes them in that direction. Was there such a moment for you? What was the motivation to sit down and hammer out this new project? Dawn Eden Goldstein. (Photo courtesy of Goldstein.) Goldstein: The moment arrived one afternoon in late 2016 or early 2017 when I was talking with my friend Kevin Turley, a Catholic writer, in a café on the King’s Road in Chelsea, London. He was telling me about the excellent conversion memoir that had just come out by poet and onetime feminist Sally Read, Night’s Bright Darkness, and then he asked me why I didn’t write about my conversion. It wasn’t the first time I’d been asked that question. But when I gave Kevin my well-rehearsed answer, which was that I really didn’t want to tell the whole world about every detail of my life history, he responded as no one else had before. He told me that I was confusing memoir with autobiography. Whereas an autobiography might be expected to contain my entire life, a memoir could have a more limited scope, covering only those things that were relevant to telling a particular aspect of my story. Once I understood what was expected of a memoir, I became excited about writing one, because I did want very much to share how the Hound of Heaven chased me into the Church. The book has an interesting title. Why did you want to drive home the point that “Sunday will never be the same”? What does your choosing this title reveal about your conversion experience? It reveals, first of all, that I love Sixties pop music, for “Sunday Will Never Be the Same” is the title of a classic hit by Spanky and Our Gang. The song is part of a genre called sunshine pop that I helped popularize as a rock historian during the late 1980s and 1990s — yes, I started during my teens! I tell about that time of my life in Sunday Will Never Be the Same, partly because it was also a time when God was trying to reach me. But I also discuss it because I don’t think converts such as myself should despise our past loves when those loves weren’t sinful in themselves. In my case, God used my love of Sixties pop — including artists like the Zombies, the Kinks, and the Left Banke — to stir up my desire for what songwriter Robyn Hitchcock calls a “Shimmering Distant Love.”  The music’s beauty made me hope that there was something transcendent that I could attain to and find happiness. And that is in fact what happened — only not as I originally hoped, which was simply that I would find a husband who liked the same music that I did. My memoir’s title is also meaningful because, in times past, Saturday night was the highlight of my week. It was then that I would go out to hear live music, whereas Sundays were for sleeping in. But once I became Catholic, Sunday became a day for communing with Jesus in the Eucharist. So Sunday truly never will be the same for me. Your first book was for readers who are curious about chastity, and then you wrote two books for readers seeking healing from trauma. Who is the ideal reader of your memoir? I want Sunday Will Never Be the Same to be the book that Catholics give to friends and family who hate the Church. It’s meant to reach people who can’t even imagine why anyone with a choice, let alone a Jewish rock and roll journalist with the world of New York City nightclubs at her disposal, would want to become Catholic. One of the ways God was trying to reach you, it seems clear, was through our Blessed Mother. Can you say something about this? Her effect on your life came about in a way that you weren’t expecting–at least at first. Although I spent five years as a Protestant before entering into full communion with the Catholic Church, it wasn’t until I became Catholic that I understood that, through our fellowship with Jesus, the Holy Family becomes our family. Mary becomes a mother to us and Joseph, through his role providing a father’s care to young Jesus, takes on a fatherly role to us as well. I realize non-Catholics might think it childish or superstitious to look at Mary and Joseph in this way. But the truth is that many if not most of us need some sort of re-parenting — to have someone, if not we ourselves, compensate for the ways in which our own parents were not fully present for us. And I think part of the reason Jesus gave Mary and Joseph to us—as he did upon the Cross when he said to the beloved disciple John, “Behold, your Mother” (John 19:27 RSV), was that he wanted us to make his perfect family our own. So I see Mary and Joseph’s role as being, in part, to re-parent us. And Mary does this in a special way through her relationship with the Holy Spirit, by whose power she bestows grace. As a new Catholic, I needed that re-parenting from Mary, because I had a spiritual wound that impaired my relationship with my mother. In Sunday Will Never Be the Same, I share how Mary helped me begin to overcome that wound by showing me that my mother and I were united as spiritual children under Mary’s divine motherhood. Your new book is quite different from your others in which, among other things, you helped the Church both confront the pain of sexual abuse—but also what a road to healing might look like–both in your own life and in the lives of others. You are uniquely positioned to offer thoughts on the sex and cover-up scandals revealed in the Church over the last couple years–scandals which do not appear to be going away any time soon. How do you feel about our current moment? When my first book on spiritual recovery from trauma, My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints, was published in 2012, what little discussion there was among Catholic leaders on abuse centered upon legal and psychological issues, not spiritual ones. That’s still the case today, and that’s why we have moved so little beyond where we were in 2002 in terms of understanding the crisis. We will not achieve real progress in addressing abuse until we Catholics promote spiritual healing for abuse victims — not only for victims of clergy abuse but also for victims of any kind of abuse. Yes, victims need legal help and psychological help, but it must never be forgotten that they also need every spiritual help that is available to them. That’s where we’ve really been failing on an institutional level, and that’s where we need to educate bishops, priests, and the entire faithful. It doesn’t take psychological training or a doctorate in theology to help a friend, family member, or fellow parishioner find meaning in his or her suffering. It takes a basic understanding of the mystery of the Cross and a willingness to walk with another human being. With that in mind, I am encouraged by Pope Francis’s writings and speeches on suffering. His vision of the Church as a field hospital where wounds are healed is exactly that which we need if we are to be what Christ is calling us to be. Taking interviewer’s prerogative here and asking a question from our profession! We are both professors of theology, but we also write for more popular audiences in addition to our fellow academics. How are you currently finding this balance of often competing goods? I wouldn’t want to write books full-time, with no work that takes me outside my apartment. It’s too isolating. For me, as an author, university teaching is an ideal profession because most of the year I’m engaged in instructing students, and yet there’s a solid block of time during the summer when I can work on a book. So it’s the best of both worlds. But there remains the challenge of finding time to accomplish not only popular writing but also academic writing. If you’re talking about competing goods, that’s where the competition lies for me, and I’ve yet to square that circle — especially since, as an early-career professor, I have a heavy teaching load. Any advice you or academic readers might offer would be most welcome!
Why Holy Thursday is not for the spiritually timid
Francois Mauriac writes that on this night 'it is sometimes made known to souls... that agony and death must not be feared'
Nun: Colosseum Via Crucis reflections to show Christ is ‘still suffering today’
ROME — For Sister Eugenia Bonetti, recently tapped by Pope Francis to write the reflections for Friday’s Way of the Cross, the aim will be to show the world the ways in which Christ still suffers today. The 80-year-old nun, who has dedicated much of her life’s work to rescuing women from human trafficking and sex slavery, was convinced to say yes to the pope’s request after Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the Vatican’s cultural czar, said it was an opportunity she couldn’t refuse. “We need to have a different Way of the Cross that could remind people how Christ is still suffering today, especially through the work that you do with women, migrants, the people that are exploited, and the children,” he pleaded with her. “I thought then that, of course, I could no longer say ‘no,’” she told Crux last week during a Vatican organized conference on human trafficking in Rome. As a Consolata Missionary who served for twenty-four years in Kenya, it wasn’t until she returned to Italy in 1993 that Bonetti’s eyes were opened to the widespread nature of sex trafficking. While speaking with Nigerian women at a local Caritas center, she came to realize “through their stories and listening to them that I was not dealing with prostitutes. I was dealing with people who have been trafficked. Behind that trafficking, many other people were involved.” Further, she said that she quickly came to realize just how many people were complicit in the trafficking enterprise. “There is the poverty, the way in which they were brought to Italy, the madams from their own country, the traffickers  — the people in Italy started using them,” she said. “The first lady who asked for help, she became my teacher. My catechist, helping me to realize what these young girls were experiencing on the streets,” she recalled. She then decided that she must work to confront this crime head on. “I could no longer think about Africa, my mission is here in my own country,” she reflected. Over the past 25 years, she — along with her fellow missionary sisters — have provided shelter to over 6,000 women rescued from trafficking. Together, they worked not merely to free them from captivity, but to teach them Italian and other skills-based courses, and to provide the necessary legal documentation that would allow them to stay in Italy. One of those women would go on to be eventually baptized into the Catholic Church by Pope John Paul II. “I remember thinking that she had passed from the dusts of the street into the majesty of Saint Peter’s,” Bonetti recalled. “It was so moving.” In recent decades, religious sisters have been on the front lines in the fight against sex trafficking, often pioneering new ground for the rest of the international community to follow suit. Yet for all of her efforts, Bonetti shuns personal attention. “No one can claim this is my project,” when it comes to this issue, she said. “This is our project.” Even so, as thousands of pilgrims gather at Rome’s Colosseum on Friday for the Via Crucis, they will bear Bonetti’s words as they work their way through the Stations of the Cross. She told Crux that her intent was to put into writing what she has been “doing, listening, and suffering” for more than twenty years. While she says she wasn’t given much notice to draft her reflections — adding that she wished she could have had a chance to pen them after participating in last week’s Vatican conference on the issue — she said she hopes they reflect  “the way of the cross as it was lived by Christ, Our Lady— his mother, and the people that followed him to the cross even today.” “We need that now. Now,” she insisted. “These young people are really climbing Calvary and we want to break this,” she says of the horrors of trafficking. “Jesus, he fell down three times. How many girls are feeling this today?” “They are tired, destroyed, and naked as Jesus was. All the ways of the cross that Jesus lived are lived today in what we call the new slave trade,” she continued. “But as there was a Resurrection for Jesus, just as with these girls, there is a Resurrection, too.”
The needed antidote to apathy 
By Bishop Arthur Serratelli    The needed antidote to apathy 
Planting the Providential Mustard Seed
“My interest in defending life and the family goes back to 2007, my first year in seminary. That [same] year, Human Life International’s regional director for Francophone Africa, George Wirnkar, came to speak at our seminary about current threats against human life, including: birth control, homosexuality, abortion, prostitution, AIDS etc. I was struck by the way our society is steeped in a Culture of Death. Even then, I realized that I had to do something to counteract it.” – Father Benoit Désiré Toum, Diocese of Edéa, Cameroon Fr. Toum began by attending more HLI-sponsored events to educate himself. “Several training sessions organized by HLI equipped me with information about methods to help restore the Culture of Life.” He next founded Seminarians for Life groups at both the philosophical seminary of Bafoussam and the theological seminary of Douala. Additionally, sent to parishes during vacation periods, he addressed the Christian virtues chastity and fidelity he discovered among young people. “Since these topics were not commonly addressed, I encouraged youth to give testimonies at evening sessions in parishes that were popular…. Thanks to these activities we were able to establish pro-life groups in two parishes.” L to R: HLI Regional Director of French-speaking Africa, George Wirnkar with Fr. Benoit Toum on Radio Maria“Because of my interest in Life and Family issues, my bishop placed me in charge of the diocesan office for the pastoral care of families after my diaconal ordination in 2012. Faced with such a tremendous task I felt insignificantly small, but I was inspired by the experience of Blessed Mother Teresa.” Instead of “fixating on the crowd,” Mother wisely knew that to start first by helping one person, then another, then another. Her actions over time moved mountains. So Father Toum started in his home parish: he held twice weekly youth groups, taught family-based catechism classes, talked and showed pro-life films and worked with couples, five of which regularized their marital situation by the end of the first year. “I realized these people really needed us to create spaces for them to share their life experiences and witness.”  Moved to an urban setting by the bishop, Father found he could replicate the work even faster in multiple parishes as they were nearby, focusing on “family crossroads” and adding in a weekly hourly program on Radio Maria Cameroon. Fr Benoit Toum now serves in the Diocese of Edea in Cameroon. Many familiar with his story know he was ordained with his twin brother on the same day in 1993, but what makes him most outstanding is his ongoing witness for life and family. His local ordinary – Bishop John Bosco Ntep – has always given him responsibilities that allow him to pastor families and young people. To this day, HLI’s Regional Director of Francophone Africa is one of his most frequent guests on Radio Maria. Goerge Wirnkar: “Fr Benoit tells me always: ‘The training I received at HLI Institutes and seminars as a student for the priesthood, have enabled me to face the challenges of ministering to families and young people today with confidence.’”  1993: The Ordination of Fathers Toum (twin brothers!) Father Toum is an example of the tiny mustard seed. Nurtured by HLI, God has magnified his actions many times over. “My thanks go to all those who helped prepare me for my pastoral work. May God bless them!” HLI is 100% Catholic, orthodox, and pro-life. Father stopped contraception from being sold in the Catholic hospital in his diocese. We advocate chastity and abstinence. Father discourages cohabitation and with students founded pro-life groups, such as the one at the University of Ngoundéré. And HLI has a worldwide pro-life network in 100 nations, with a firm record opposing anti-life policies. Father Toum would go on to stop government policies expelling pregnant girls from school, so they wouldn’t be tempted to abort. Edea Diocese Laity Conference Procession, January 2018Father Toum’s work continues. Won’t you support HLI’s efforts?       The post Planting the Providential Mustard Seed appeared first on Human Life International.
Notre Dame is not, and never should be, just a museum
As the Archbishop of Paris put it, the cathedral was built to house the Bread of Life
Barron says Tiger’s epic isn’t just about comebacks, but redemption
ROME – Sunday turned out to be one of those magical days that sports fans will always remember, down to the details of where they were when it happened – when, with a fused back and enough personal baggage to sink a battleship, a 43-year-old Tiger Woods nevertheless managed to turn back time and win the Masters. Watching Woods walk off the 18th green into an emotional embrace with his ten-year-old son, flashing back to images of a 21-year-old Woods hugging his own father after his first Masters win, was the kind of thing that left grown men in bars, airports and their own living rooms sobbing like little kids. Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles, himself a huge golf fan – for the record, Barron was watching a golf tournament in his room at Chicago’s Mundelein Seminary in 2015 when he got the call telling him he’d been named a bishop – wasn’t actually watching the Masters on Sunday, since tee times at Augusta National had been moved up because of a looming storm. However, once he learned what had happened, he said he found a TV set and watched the replays and post-match coverage, transfixed by what he saw. Barron said he always hoped Tiger would recapture the magic, despite all the turmoil of his personal situation. “When Tiger had his great collapse 10 years ago and the stories came out about his personal life and how out of control he was, like many people I shared a certain disgust about that, this guy has really lost his way,” he said. “But at the same time, I confess that all these years I’ve been rooting for Tiger,” Barron said. “I know that some people gave up on him and said, ‘I don’t like this guy anymore, I’m rooting against him.’ But even during this long desert period I was hoping. Every major, somewhere in the back of my mind, if Tiger was playing, I was hoping he’d win.” “So it was unique, it was a very special thing,” Barron said. What may distinguish Barron’s reaction from many other golf aficionados is that where most see a great comeback story, Barron also sees redemption. “What always struck me was Tiger Woods in 2009,” he said. “Talk about someone who’s got the four great things that Thomas Aquinas talked about as the substitutes for God, the four things we human beings seek: Wealth, pleasure, honor and power. In 2009, he’s got all of those in spades.” “He’s making like $95 million a year probably at the height of his powers,” Barron said. “He’s arguably the most famous man on the planet in 2009, and power – look at his influence culturally. Pleasure, there’s where we see the beginning of the downfall. Tiger’s getting all the sensual pleasure he could possibly want. He had everything that the world, to use the Biblical term, offers us and yet clearly his life was out of control, clearly he bottomed out spiritually.” “To me that’s the great lesson,” Barron said. “Go all the way with the goods of the world, like Tiger Woods. Put him on top of the mountain, but clearly it was not enough to sustain his life at a deep level.” Barron said the Woods saga also offers another great spiritual lesson. “What we saw was a very Biblical archetype of someone who falls from grace and is then forced through in his case a 10-year desert experience whose purpose was, if we’re going to think spiritually, to bring him to what really does give life its deepest meaning,” he said. “I think that’s what people sense in the embrace of his kids after the [final] round,” Barron said. In that sense, Barron said, Woods is almost like a Biblical figure. “Think of every major figure in the Bible … Moses comes to mind, the Prince of Egypt, all that. The Bible doesn’t give details, but you get the idea: wealth, pleasure, power, honor. Moses needed years in the desert before he was ready to see God and find his mission,” he said. “So Tiger goes through a really long desert experience,” he said. “I would say, if I were offering spiritual advice to him, ‘Look for the signs of life. Where is God leading you to through this desert?’” “There’s something beautiful after that period in finding again the ability to win,” Barron said. For the record, Barron thinks we may not be done yet in catching glimpses of that beauty. After affirming that he regards Woods as the greatest golfer of all time, he also said it’s entirely possible Woods may yet break Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 major championships. “If he goes on a little bit of a tear and can get a couple more majors quickly, who knows?” he said. “If he’s got another six or seven years of competitive golf in him, that’s 28 majors and he has to win four more, so I wouldn’t count him out.” Whatever happens, Barron said, it’ll be fun to watch. “Tiger Woods to golf is like Isaac Stern to the violin or Joe DiMaggio to the baseball bat, like Michelangelo to marble,” Barron said. In that sense, he said, it’s also a tale of someone “finding what he was meant to be,” then losing it, and finally getting it back.
'Be still and know that I am God'
By Andrea Picciotti-BayerHow many Catholics will fill the pews on Easter Sunday 2019? Will this year see a noticeable decline in parishioners dressed in their Easter finest? Will the past year’s “Summer of Shame” – the publication of the Pennsylvania grand jury report, the (now-defrocked) Cardinal Theodore McCarrick scandal, the Vatican’s tepid, tone-deaf response to abuse here and elsewhere in the world – take its toll on the Catholic Church in America this Easter? Some Catholics have already left the Church. Quite publicly. Others have not yet taken that step; they’re simply shaken and disaffected. This is not one of those stories. I remain convinced that the Catholic Church is where I should be. Of course, I was angry when the findings of the Pennsylvania grand jury on clerical sexual abuse of children became public last August. How could men entrusted with the care of souls egregiously harm innocent children? News of Theodore McCarrick’s most unholy life also disgusted me, especially the news that more than a few people knew that this high-ranking American prelate had preyed on people and said nothing. All in all, I felt betrayed and humiliated. I have found some consolation since those first months of shock, confusion and revulsion. Peter Steinfels’ excellent analysis of the grand jury report in Commonweal Magazine helped. He showed that almost all the abuse cited took place decades before the U.S. Catholic bishops’ 2002 steps to protect minors. These reforms have made Catholic churches and schools among the safest places for children in the United States. Then, this past February, Pope Francis finally defrocked McCarrick and hosted a world summit on clergy abuse. There is still much more to do to restore the priesthood and episcopate. Some members of the hierarchy here and in the Vatican appear genuinely concerned and are working to rid the rot that has seeped into the Church. Is it only window-dressing? Only time will tell. What are average Catholics to do in the meantime? This Lent, I found my answer in Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God!” It is easy to walk away when things get difficult. Pointing to the failings of others on your way out may even offer a gratifying sense of self-righteousness. Instead of leaving the Church, however, I am choosing to be still. The Catholic Church is where I belong, despite the failings of many of her faithful, including yours truly. Living as a faithful Catholic is not convenient or comfortable or popular today. It never has been. Ask the first pope, Saint Peter, who was crucified upside down. Or other martyrs to the faith of our past or present. Say the 21 Coptic Christians kidnapped and beheaded in Libya in 2015. Yes, U.S. Catholics today face a crisis – our summer and winter and spring of shame, the failure of some priests and prelates, not to mention the Church and Her faithful’s place in an increasingly hostile secular culture. While today’s crisis pales in comparison to crises other Christians have faced over the millennia, it has led many to bouts of despondency. I am surely no exception. But when I am “still” – when I trust that God has put the Church in charge of my spiritual well-being and try to follow Her teachings – I can handle whatever contradictions and confusions that the all-too-human leaders of the Church send my way. Or the challenges everyday life bring. Loss, suffering, humiliations or just plain exhaustion can’t keep me down for long. Instead of letting the scandal of sexual infidelity by a handful of priests and bishops dissolve this trust, I have resolved to be still and live more faithfully. What does that look like? It means embracing all that the Church teaches, turning to Her sacraments, and doing so joyfully. It means being a light for others. As Saint Augustine said, “The measure of love is to love without measure.” No, now is not the time to leave. Now is the time to stand confidently in defense of the Church’s eternal teachings. Now, today, this moment is the time to show it is possible to live consistent with Catholic teaching and desire the good of all around me. So, as Easter season draws near with its promise of immense joy, I will be still, unwavering in my fidelity to a church that calls me to be a faithful, joyous messenger of love and hope. “Be still and know that I am God!”