just a few off-the-record thoughts from the journal
On the Catholic Worker movement
I get the sense that most people think the Catholic Worker, which most people—including myself when I first met it—know filtered through the lens of the past fifty years of American history, is essentially the Catholic wing of the communist party.
It’s Catholicism for lefties.
But, really, the reason the Catholic Worker is remarkable and worth noting at all is because it is simply the way to live the Gospel in an American context. How did I become so thoroughly convinced of it?
In the spring of 2021, James and I co-wrote this piece on Peter Maurin (James does not endorse the title), which was basically when I gave James a shot to really convince me that Peter Maurin was all he was cracked up to be. It was the first time I ever read Maurin seriously. And meeting Peter Maurin in the word was maybe a little like it was meeting him in the flesh. The message he was hawking was conversion, pure and simple.
Repent, and believe in the Gospel, he wrote, just with much more color and flair, and an understanding of what people need to repent from.
What I had never read before was a correct diagnosis, but with Maurin’s words convincing me of his accurate assessment, and a man in front of me who was living his prescription, I was convinced the Catholic Worker was the cure.
I also sometimes think that I was more a Catholic Worker last year in New York than I am living in a house of hospitality. But that’s another story.
On the Eucharistic Revival
People seem very worried about the lack of belief in the Real Presence. But they don’t seem equally concerned with what conversion is necessary on the part of the Catholic Church to make the Real Presence believable.
In the age of Google and Chat GPT, we do not really understand what it means to speak authoritatively. We do not understand authority.
We confuse authority with coercive power, with blind obedience. That is not authority.
It is not enough to scream at the world to understand a sacrament through the narrow definition of a Thomistic rendering of Aristotlean metaphysics. We ought to begin by listening to what the world knows, and speak in symbols it understands. What does the world yearn to know? How does the Church speak to that? What pains does the world feel? How does Christ meet and heal those?
On the Synod on Synodality
Speaking of a process that begins with listening…
I find it distressing that the American hierarchy, media, etc. seems to have missed the memo on the Synod entirely, and are now covering it once there is a document to discuss.
But the Synod is not about a document. It’s not about words. It’s not about right thoughts or wrong thoughts. It’s not about ideas on a page.
It is about Newman’s living idea—the idea of Christianity. And it is about participation in that idea through an encounter. An encounter of persons.
Writing on the Synod will always miss the point unless it springs from and directs to that encounter of persons that is Church.
I got to be on Bo and Bud’s pod. Give her a listen! I talk about all these things, basically, and pilgrimage!