Sunday, April 19, 2020
For Lent this year, my team and I produced a musical series, Songs of Notre Dame: A Lenten Offering, where we shared music from the various Notre Dame choirs and ensembles with music that helped people pray during Lent through the Octave of Easter. It was very well received, so much so that our audience wanted us to keep sharing songs far beyond the season! We will likely revisit the genre of outreach in the future, but feel free to enjoy the many musical selections that were part of this campaign.
Thursday, January 2, 2020
For Advent 2019, I helped lead a project called Sacred Places of Notre Dame: A Daily Advent Journey, available at sacredplaces.nd.edu. Each day, we highlighted a different people from the Notre Dame family, sharing stories about why certain places on campus were sacred to them. These brief but moving videos allowed people to pray each day of the Advent season, and we received many compliments of gratitude from so many viewers.
Thursday, July 11, 2019
Here is a reflection I wrote for the Notre Dame Alumni Association's Daily Gospel Reflection, located at faith.nd.edu.
Gospel: Matthew 19: 27-29
Then Peter said in reply, “Look, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life."
401k. IRA. Social Security. Roth. Pension. Invest. Save. For many of us, a constant drumbeat of professional life and financial advising seems to center around saving for retirement. There are projections about how much we want to be able to spend in retirement and about how long we will live. The most dreaded question about the whole conversation seems to be, “Will I have enough to retire?” And while sound financial planning and saving for the future are laudable goals, I sometimes wonder if we can too easily lose sight of an even more important return on our investment.
Today’s Gospel for the Feast of St. Benedict has Peter reminding Jesus about how much the disciples have given to follow the Lord. Peter, like us, sees things from a limited view regarding the cost of discipleship here and now. Conversely, Jesus provides an eternal perspective and promises that all that we have sacrificed here for him will come back to us a hundredfold and lead to everlasting happiness in heaven.
St. Benedict and countless others who have given their lives to monastic life have heeded this advice well, knowing that in offering their lives to Christ, they will receive back more than they could have ever produced alone. They inspire all of us, even if we are not called to this sort of life, to think about the sacrifices and gifts to God and others we could make. After all, a small gift in the hands of God can become something truly powerful.
So instead of only focusing on if we will have enough to retire, I would suggest another question worthy of consideration: will I inherit eternal life? This is the return on the investment of our time, efforts, and finances that matters most. For no matter how well we have planned for retirement, bodily death is inescapable. Instead of letting that thought fill us with fear, however, we live in trusting hope that the words of Jesus will come true and that by giving our lives over to him, we will receive an eternal reward.
Sunday, March 17, 2019
I had the blessing of accompanying a group from the Notre Dame Alumni Association on a pilgrimage to begin Lent in 2019. As a part of that outreach I wrote a number of entries in a public traveler's journal:
From the sacred places to my fellow pilgrims, it was one of the most meaningful spiritual experiences of my life!
Tuesday, December 25, 2018
For Advent, I helped lead a project called Chapels of Notre Dame: A Daily Advent Journey. These brief but moving videos allowed people to pray each day of the Advent season in a different chapel on campus. See the collection at chapelsof.nd.edu. To see our videos from 2017 in a similar vein, visit advent17.nd.edu.
Thursday, August 30, 2018
Abuse Crisis Reflection
Gospel: Matthew 23:13-22
Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You lock the Kingdom of heaven before men.
You do not enter yourselves,
nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter.
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You traverse sea and land to make one convert,
and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna
twice as much as yourselves.
"Woe to you, blind guides, who say,
'If one swears by the temple, it means nothing,
but if one swears by the gold of the temple, one is obligated.'
Blind fools, which is greater, the gold,
or the temple that made the gold sacred?
And you say, 'If one swears by the altar, it means nothing,
but if one swears by the gift on the altar, one is obligated.'
You blind ones, which is greater, the gift,
or the altar that makes the gift sacred?
One who swears by the altar swears by it and all that is upon it;
one who swears by the temple swears by it
and by him who dwells in it;
one who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God
and by him who is seated on it."
It is a certain rite of passage as children when we encounter the sinful or at least human side of those who serve as our mentors. I can vividly recall scenes when family members and spiritual leaders fell from the pedestals where I had placed them in my mind’s eye. We then begin to understand St. Paul’s message to the Romans that “all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Nevertheless, these are sometimes painful events that, depending on their severity, can present trials to our faith.
I cannot help but read today’s gospel passage without bringing to mind the most recent round of scandals that have plagued the Catholic Church. We weep bitterly with the victims of the abuse carried out by those who were entrusted with their spiritual care, and we cry in disbelief that something so sinister could have gone on hidden for so long. The betrayal is deep, especially because, like the Pharisees in the gospel, these are the leaders who are ordained to protect us from evil and spiritual harm.
We are left wondering what we can do to help, knowing we cannot undo the wrongs of the past or exercise complete control of the future. During my prayer with this gospel, I thought about the following themes that I would offer. We must, first and foremost, pray for the Church without abandoning it. So much contrition, forgiveness, and healing must take place, and our prayers and presence can only help facilitate that. Secondly, we can lend our support to appropriate and ongoing reforms to ensure that the most vulnerable are protected without question, any future abuses are snuffed out without delay, and transparency is the norm. I think it is also important for us to search our own hearts, guard against our own inclinations to sin, and seek forgiveness from those we have wronged. No one is exempt from temptation or the depths to which the human heart can move towards evil, and individuals earnestly seeking holiness is a tremendous means of redirecting our culture.
Finally, I would suggest that we recall that ultimately, we are followers of Jesus Christ and no one else. We commit ourselves to the one who was without sin and who can be our refuge and ultimate source of hope in times such as these.
Monday, March 19, 2018
Journey Through Lent with Art
I have been working on an enjoyable Lenten project for my work at Faith ND called Journey Through Lent with Art. My editor Josh Noem and I have selected works of art depicting the upcoming Sunday Gospel for Lent and paired them with audio reflections we have crafted. For Holy Week and Easter Week, we have prepared art and reflections for each day's gospel. Click the link above to see the entire campaign.