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You may have heard that we have been having a series on Pope Francis’ recent exhortation “On the Call to Holiness in Today’s World.” We have met on three Tuesday evenings in July in Anthony Hall Founders Room. Gladys Whitehouse and I have facilitated the discussions – we lead with a prayer, then a short presentation on one of the chapters in the exhortation, then questions for small-table discussion, then we open it up to the larger group. What we have found is that many people are eager to learn more about these kinds of things, and to have the opportunity to talk about it with others. One quote from the pope is “We are frequently tempted to think that holiness is only for those who can withdraw from ordinary affairs to spend much time in prayer.  That is not the case.
We are called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves.” Over these past few weeks, we have had rich discussion on the topic of holiness and what it means in everyday life. We will continue the series with chapters 4 and 5 on  August 14 (chapter4) and August 21 (chapter 5). Both are Tuesday evenings, both at 7:00pm in Founders, and all are welcome!

You may have seen that we have a guest friar visiting our parish in early August. Casey Cole O.F.M. is a friar in studies in Chicago, who has North  Carolina roots and he will be here to preach at all masses next weekend (he is an ordained deacon), and also give talks based on his new book “Called” on Monday and Tuesday, August 6 and 7. All are welcome for these as well.

A couple of book recommendations: one is “Creation and the Cross” by Elizabeth Johnson, which is about how we understand the death of Jesus on the cross. Many of us learned that God, out of anger at sinful humanity, demanded that Jesus suffer and die, and in her book, Elizabeth Johnson explores the  roots of that understanding in depth, and comes to a way of thinking about Jesus’ death on a cross that is not based on God’s vengeance or any kind of punishment, but on Jesus staying faithful to his mission of proclaiming the gracious kingdom of God’s justice and His being crucified because the “powers that be” could not bear hearing His message. As still happens today, in so many ways. She points out, in her book, that the death of Jesus can never be separated from the resurrection of Jesus, which is the source of hope for all Christians – “he is risen” means, in the end, God’s vision for the world is more powerful than any deathly powers. It’s a very fine book. Both Steve K. and I have read it and liked it.

The other recommendation is “Jesus: An Historical Approximation” by Jose Pagola. This is a book that has been translated from Spanish into English quite beautifully and poetically. It tells the story and meaning of Jesus taking into account modern biblical scholarship (which takes an objective, historical approach to asking the question of what can we know about Jesus based on methods such as archaeology, anthropology, geography, cultural studies – all of which have been enthusiastically approved by the Catholic Church going back a hundred years or so); and also by looking at the story and meaning of Jesus through the eyes of faith. The key is to hold these together – to read and hear these stories as people of faith and also as people curious and interested in what life was like for a poor Jewish man under the sway of the Roman Empire in first-century Palestine. It’s another fine book.

Finally, we friars occasionally receive mail that has no return address and that comes to us unsigned. Please note that staff opens this mail and if found to be unsigned or anonymous in any way, this mail is discarded unread. We friars realize that sometimes people may disagree with us, or with something in the church, but if this is the case, please don’t send us anonymous letters – come out from behind your computer and tell us who you are, so we can engage with you.

Blessings on your week!