Welcome! This blog celebrates both the local and the catholic -- that is, universal -- aspects of the Roman Catholic Church by sharing reflections on experiences of the Church in a variety of settings and cultures. Postings will come from around the world and around the corner. You don't have to be a Catholic to come along.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

St. Paul of Rome

It's almost impossible for me not to think of Rome when I think of St. Peter. After all, the head of the apostles was the first bishop of Rome. It is for this reason that his successor bishops of Rome, the popes, have led the Church.

St. Peter was also martyred at Rome, crucified upside down. The magnificent St. Peter's Basilica was built atop his bones. They remain there today, far below the high altar, where visitors on the Scavi Tour can see them.

So St. Peter and Rome are inextricably connected. But on this Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, I'm think of how linked to Rome the apostle to the Gentiles was as well.

Saul, the rabbi, was from Tarsus, in what is now Turkey. He was converted on the road to Damascus, then eventually visited many other places on his missionary journeys. One of his greatest letters was written to the Christians at Rome, the heart of the empire into which Christianity was born.

Like St. Peter, he later was imprisoned in Rome -- in a stone jail that exists to this day -- and executed there. He was beheaded, not crucified, because he was a citizen of Rome. And today a great basilica, St. Paul Outside the Walls, holds his sarcophagus.

St. Peter and St. Paul make me proud to be Roman Catholic.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Communicator of the Year

Of all the Catholic organizations in the world, surely one of the most unusual is the Salesian Guild of Cincinnati.

It has no dues, no officers, no membership in any meaningful sense and only one meeting a year. And it has been going strong since 1944.

Named for St. Francis de Sales, the patron saint of writers and a patron of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, the Guild brings together Catholic communicators of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky to pray, socialize and learn together.

Attendance is open to anyone, but participants most often are Catholics working in Catholic media, secular media, Church-related public relations, secular public relations, education, and diocesan and parish offices.

One of the highlights of the annual meeting is the presentation of the Catholic Communicator of the Year Award. (Full disclosure: I am a previous recipient.) At the meeting held Jan. 15 at the Sisters of Charity Motherhouse, the winner was the Most Rev. Daniel E. Pilarczyk, archbishop emeritus of Cincinnati and my former boss.

Archbishop Pilarczyk has written more than a dozen popular books, as well as many pamphlets and articles. He has recorded some of his books as audiobooks. In the final years of his archdiocesan leadership, he wrote a series of articles on gratitude called "Grateful Believers."

At age 76 and retired, he is now recording a daily series of Scripture reflections, "Sharing the Word," which is heard on Sirius Radio and more than a hundred Catholic radio stations, plus available in podcast form on the Internet.

In introductory comments, Fr. Greg Friedman. O.F.M., appropriately lauded the clarity and simplicity of Archbishop Pilarczyk's writings and homilies. The archbishop emeritus, after a few words of gratitude, characteristically turned the attention away from himself. He thanked the crowd of communicators present for all they do for the Church.

Ben fatto, DEP!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Pace e bene

Catholics in the United States were dispensed this year from the obligation to celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, by attending Mass on January 1. But what better way to start the new year than with Mass?

Ann and I went to the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains in downtown Cincinnati, where Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr presided at Mass for World Peace Day at 11 a.m. (mercifully late for the day after New Year's Eve). The popes have been declaring World Peace Day on January 1 since 1968.

This year, Pope Benedict set the theme as "Religious Freedom: Path to Peace." Archbishop Schnurr, in his homily, noted that the Church upholds the right of religious freedom for all, not just for Catholics.

But the archbishop also called our attention to an often-overlooked promise by Jesus in the Last Supper Discourse, John 14:27: "My peace I live with you, my peace I give you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you." In other words, all real peace comes through Jesus, whom we continue to celebrate in this Christmas season as Prince of Peace.

I wish you God's peace and all good in this Year of Our Lord 2011. Or as our Franciscan friends say in the native language of St. Francis, pace e bene.