Category Archives: Religious Studies

The Synod – Conclusion

Written by Rick Squier, UCAP student

     Our visit to the Synod was a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness how the church is attempting to reunite culture and doctrine. Reading the interviews of Cardinals and Bishops online, and then actually meeting some of them, and talking to them about their words was surreal. In addition to the prelates of the synod, Father and I were also introduced to authors, reporters, and theologians who are significant leaders in Catholic circles. All of the people we met, whether their position is to report for the church, or elect the successor of Peter, they were very gracious with their time and words.

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     As we heard varying points of view on how the church will recognize different relationships, it gives hope that there is an openness to those the various situations. Some bishops called for minimal change, while others were suggesting a significant shift from the way we recognize familial situations. Even though there isn’t consistency amongst all bishops, the fact that this Synod was formed to address issues of inclusion, shows that there is a genuine attempt to grow the church. This process gives hope for the future of the church and how it recognizes the message of Christ.

     Our Synod experience was only possible because of Bishop Murry’s invitation to spend time with him in the second week of the Synod. From unfettered access to areas of the St. Peter’s Basilica, and Vatican, to introductions to high-level decision makers of the church, this experience was only possible because of the bisjop of Youngstown . The entire experience was humbling as this Director of Faith Formation from a parish in Ohio, had the opportunity to meet leaders of the Catholic Church from around the world. Who knows what God has in store for us?

Synod on the Family, Part 2

By Rick Squier

Bishop Murry said that the Pope has been at all of the general sessions of the Synod, and was surprised in how approachable he is. He said the Pope attends the mid-session coffee breaks the same as everybody else. Bishop Murry said that several times he would be having coffee, look up, and there was the Pope wandering through the room. The image is one that the Bishop happily shared with us.

Bishop Murray and Pope Francis

Wednesday was certainly memorable. Father and I met Bishop Murry in the morning and got a private tour of St. Peter’s Basilica. It is an incredible place to wander through when it’s empty. We then celebrated Mass in the Clementine Chapel in the Necropolis, below the Basilica. The Clementine Chapel is the closest chapel to the burial chamber of St. Peter. The holiness of the space gave the prayers for our parish families a deeper emotional effect for me.

The Clementine Chapel

During a break at the Synod, Bishop Murry gave Father and I a tour of the North American Pontifical College. From the roof of the facility, we saw what must be the best view of Rome.
I can’t imagine having a better tour guide of any of the locations we visited.

Please pray for the Synod Fathers, and the direction they take the church

An Ursuline Student at the Synod of the Family

Rick Squier, a student in UCAP, is on a fabulous adventure to the Vatican this week as a guest of Father Ferraro, an attendee to the Synod of the Family. Follow along here as we get more information about his daily adventures. Here’s the first installment, from Monday, October 12:

After an uneventful, but very long flight to Rome, Father Ferraro and I found that our luggage ended up in Germany instead of Rome. Moments like this make you realize that the toothbrush and underwear in your luggage may have been a better choice for your carryon than the four bike magazines, and textbooks that you lugged through three airports. But, we are in Rome, and wearing the same clothes for more than two days means little in comparison to IMG_3658witnessing the potential that presents itself to the church with the Synod on the Family.

Monday was a spectacularly beautifully sunny day in Rome.  We saw Bishops from all over the world wandering around the Vatican area as we made our first pass through St. Peter Square. We met Bishop Murry, and in talking to him it is quite apparent why he was asked to be a Synod Father. He has such a wonderfully pastoral sense, and understanding about what it means to be a family, and the blessings and challenges that come with it. Bishop Murry addressed the synod on Saturday, in what they refer to as an intervention. The three minute intervention offers each of the 268 bishops of the Synod, an opportunity to present their view on the blessing and challenges for today’s families. Bishop Murry said that the text of his intervention will be posted on the diocesan website in the next couple days, when it is we will copy it onto our site (St. Joan of Arc Church, Streetsboro, OH) as well.

 

About the Synod on the Family: This meeting, formally called the Fourteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, is taking place in the Vatican from October 4, 2015 through October 25, 2015. This year, the Synod is focused on the vocation and mission of the family in both the Church and the world.

 

Professor and Chair of Religious Studies selected as a National Endowment for the Humanities summer scholar

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Natalie Kertes-Weaver, Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Ursuline College, has been selected as an NEH Summer Scholar from a national applicant pool to attend one of 30 seminars and institutes supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Endowment is a federal agency that, each summer, supports these enrichment opportunities at colleges, universities, and cultural institutions, so that faculty can work in collaboration and study with experts in humanities disciplines.

Kertes-Weaver will participate in a seminar or institute entitled “Representations of the ‘Other’: Jews in Medieval England.” The five-week program will be held at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies (England) and directed by Professor Irven M. Resnick.

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Photo Credit: Google Images

Pope Francis: Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, 2013

While many (even most) people look at Pope Francis as an important world leader, my hunch is that he understands himself to be primarily a follower, not a leader.  Like all Christians, Pope Francis is a disciple of Jesus Christ, and the meaning of the word “disciple” is one who follows.  And as a disciple of Jesus, Pope Francis strives every day to become more like Jesus in what he says and does, and in how he speaks and acts.

Each day, Pope Francis prays and reads (and rereads) the stories of Jesus in the Gospels.  Each day we witness this humble person speaking and acting very much like Jesus did.  Facing such overwhelming responsibilities every day, Pope Francis is a model of Gospel simplicity.  He shows us the meaning of the Beatitudes through his poverty of spirit, his meekness, his thirst for justice.  He also clearly displays how one can perform the corporal works of mercy no matter who you are, no matter where you are.  As we read in Matthew 25:35-36, every disciple is charged to feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty; to clothe the naked and visit the lonely and imprisoned.

Photo Credit: Google Images

Photo Credit: Google Images

As Pope Francis performs these very simple and humble actions, they shine brightly before all who see them, or hear about them, or read about them.  Like the sun’s rays warm our faces, these acts of mercy warm our hearts and souls.  Like Jesus feeding the multitude with bread and fish, Pope Francis feeds us – and the world – with hope.  In the midst of the darkness of evil that too often blankets our world, Pope Francis shines as a beacon of light, reminding us of Jesus, the Light of the World.

As we continue to pray for Pope Francis, we should also learn from his example.  Each Christian is a disciple, a follower of Jesus.  Each of us is called to be a person of the Beatitudes, a person of the corporal works of mercy.  Each of us is asked to bring the light of Christ into the world in our own way.  This is especially relevant during the Advent season, in which we recall the coming of Jesus, the Light, into the world.  May our light join the brilliant light of Pope Francis in bringing mercy and hope into the world during this holy season and throughout the coming year.  Amen.

George S. Matejka, Ph.D. is the Chair of the Philosophy Department at Ursuline College. 

After the Lecture: Is this blessed sip of life not enough?

Dave matthewsIf you are a Dave Matthews Band fan like me, you certainly noticed the news this week that fans stopped to help a man who had a bike with a flat tire on their way to a DMB concert and found that the person was Dave Matthews.  The fans placed his bike on their bike rack and gave Dave Matthews a ride to his own concert.  Being the gracious person that he is, Dave showed his gratitude with front row seats, back stages passes, a meeting with the band, dinner, and of course, a shout out during the concert.  Jealous?  I am!

The Dave Matthews Band has become iconic in the world of rock. Although there have been long breaks between album releases, the band tours year after year, and their fan base continues to grow. Beyond the unique beat and brilliant tones produced by this eclectic band, the lyrical focus and continued grappling with life’s mysteries is a significant draw for the listener.

A continuous theme found in the music is the idea that focusing on the afterlife, or what is beyond us, has left humanity failing to recognize the sacred that is in the here and now. We are so preoccupied with trying to attain what comes after this physical life that we fail to notice all that surrounds us in the present. In the song “Don’t Burn the Pig,” DMB poses the question, “Is this blessed sip of life not enough?” Without debating the existence of a life beyond the physical world, these lyrics have demanded that we take notice of the beauty in our daily lives and experience God as God is present.

I can’t help but think of Catholic Imagination when I hear this song which views creation as sacramental. Creation in all its forms reveals something about God and thus brings God among us. Consequently, this life is “blessed” and should be embraced as such. Too often we waste away our days in search of something that should remain a mystery and fail to recognize the divine that permeates our everyday lives. The music of DMB acknowledges this calling its listeners to realize and be conscious of the sacred in all its forms and to have gratitude for all that is experienced in this “blessed sip of life.”

Gina Messina-Dysert, Ph.D. is a theologian, ethicist, and Dean of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies at Ursuline College.