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Church Life Today
33 minutes | Oct 3, 2021
Forming Catholics for the Medical Professions, with Dr. Maggie Skoch Musso
A good number of the students I have taught in theology courses at Notre Dame have gone on to medical school. Many of these students feel called to the practice of medicine, and would even speak of their professional pursuits as a vocation. But I often hear from the graduates a grave sense of disappointment in what they encounter in medical school. These are the kind of people who are most committed to their Catholic faith and to seeking out a Catholic approach to healthcare and the understanding of the human person and their own role as healers, They learn a lot in med school and they are prepared well for the technical practice of medicine, but they feel like their way of seeing the world and other human beings is often under strain in the course of their studies. We might think this is the inevitable result at public, secular medical schools, but it turns out that many students who attend the few Catholic medical schools tend to feel similarly. Which leads us to this question: How ought we form young Catholics––as Catholics––for the healthcare professions?The students have become the teachers in this regard, and today one of my former students is my guest to talk about her own vocation as a doctor and how to form Catholics for healthcare. Dr. Maggie Skoch Musso is a psychiatry resident at Case Western Reserve University/University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. She completed her MD and a concurrent MA in Bioethics at the Loyola Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago, and she is a 2016 graduate of the University of Notre Dame, where she studied Theology. While at Notre Dame, Maggie served as the president of the Notre Dame chapter of NAMI––the National Alliance on Mental Illness––and for her work and advocacy on behalf of those suffering with mental illness, Maggie has received numerous awards at both her alma mater and through national organizations.
32 minutes | Sep 26, 2021
Media, Polarization, and the Gospel, with Deacon Matthew Kuna
What happens online does not stay online. The borders between the digital world andthe flesh and blood world have become rather porous. The ways we think, speak,and act in the digital environment bears meaning for how we think, speak, andact offline, and vice versa, at least to some extent. When we search around inmedia for Catholic voices, or for how Catholics engage with each other in thedigital space, what we find is conduct that is often far from charitable, andcontent that leads more readily to polarization than communion. What is theimpact, then, of digital media and the ways of being that are fashioned indigital space on concrete Catholic communities, like the parish?My guest today is paying close attention to these phenomena and workingto help develop ways and habits of communicating that are more conducive to theGospel. Deacon Matthew Kuna is a transitional deacon in the Diocese ofAllentown, who is finishing up his study and formation for the priesthood atSt. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia. He is also a member of theinaugural cohort in the McGrath Institute for Church Life’s ChurchCommunications Ecology Program, where pastors, lay ministers, and educators arecalled to respond to the myriad pastoral challenges raised by life in thedigital age. He joins me to talk about the ways in which our environments shapeus––especially the digital environment––and how we might create betterconditions for disciples to be formed for healthy, responsible, and discerningengagement in our increasingly digital world.
36 minutes | Sep 5, 2021
Bring back the imprecatory psalms, with Timothy Troutner
“O God, smash the teeth in their mouths!”“Make their eyes so dim they cannot see.”“May his children be fatherless, his wife, a widow.”Who prays like that? Well, we do: Christians. Those petitions––those curses––that I justrecited come from Psalm 58, Psalm 69, and Psalm 109. But we don’t hear themvery often: not in the public liturgy as at Mass, not in the liturgy of thehours that we might pray alone. What is being lost by not praying things likethat, in just those words: the words of Scripture––the Psalms?These are examples of the imprecatory psalms. My guest today says we need to bring backthese psalms into the regular of the Church. He wrote an essay for our ChurchLife Journal with the very direct title, “Bring Back the Imprecatory Psalms.”This is the voice of Christ himself, who in praying the psalms took on eventhese cries, which the abused and oppressed offer up to God against theirvictimizers and the wicked.Timothy Troutner is a doctoral candidate in systematic theology at Notre Dame, where hefocuses on the doctrine of creation and the place of language. He is here totalk about this call to bring back the imprecatory psalms, especially now inthe wake of scandals in the Church and the seeming prosperity of the wicked atthe expense of the lowly across the world today.
35 minutes | Aug 29, 2021
Tolkien’s Creative Imagination, with Holly Ordway
What does it take to create a world? Well, you might think it requires you to be God. So why don’t we ask the question about a literary world, but nevertheless a complete world, with a comprehensive vision, an atmosphere and a history and languages, customs, and traditions. We might think few people are capable of creating such things, and we are definitely right in thinking that. Yet there are some authors––some artists––who manage such a feat, and one such figure who stands perhaps above just about any other in the powers and fruits of creation is J. R. R. Tolkien, creator of The Lord of the Rings. So let’s ask our question again: What did it take for Tolkien to create Middle-earth? And that is where today’s episode comes in. Many might think that Tolkien was a stand-alone genius, to whom ideas and images came complete unto themselves and without precedent. We might think his work is something like “pure originality” in that he conjures things up out of nothing, as if he were quite a bit like God who is indeed an uncreated creator. Or we might think that any influences Tolkien had, however dim they might be, are all located in the past, which accorded more with his special area of scholarly expertise. But today, we will consider the modern influences on Tolkien’s creative imagination, and in so doing we will think about what a creative imagination is and how a Catholic like Tolkien exercises his imagination.To guide us on our quest, Dr. Holly Ordway joins us today. Dr. Ordway is the Cardinal Francis George Fellow of Faith and Culture at the Word on Fire Institute, whose recently published book is Tolkien’s Modern Reading: Middle-Earth Beyond the Middle Ages.
26 minutes | Aug 22, 2021
The Parish and the Call to Communion, with Katherine Coolidge
When a Catholic parish is being what is called to be, what does that look like? What are the marks of healthy and vibrant parish life? If we really tended to questions like these, we might find ourselves changing our perceptions of what it is we want from our parishes. And that, my friends, may very well mean that we have to change what we ourselves give to our parishes.My guest today invests her time and energy in helping parishes realize their mission, especially through forming Catholics for lives of vibrant discipleship. Katherine Coolidge is Director for Parish and Diocesan Services at the Catherine of Siena Institute. She joins me today to talk about where we are in parish life, where we should be, and how we get from one to the other.
30 minutes | Aug 2, 2021
Life in Death in Life, with Robert Cording
“Nothing new can happen between my son and me. And while I have taught the parable of the prodigal son many times, these days I feel not just why, when the lost is found, there is great cause for celebration, but how truly the zest goes out of life with such a loss. There is no word for the pairings of emotions one feels in grief—the enormity of love mixed with the enormity of sorrow.”Those words come from Robert Cording in an essay he published in the Image journal with the title, “In the Unwalled City.” In this remarkable essay, he puts into words what cannot be contained in words: his grief for the death of his son Daniel, his desire to keep communion alive with his son, and his duty of remembrance that raises his son to life in his own life. I reached out to Professor Cording after reading his essay and he graciously agreed to join me here on our show today.If you’ve been listening to recent episodes of our show, you know that I am working on a project between my own McGrath Institute for Church Life and Ave Maria Press about our relationship with our beloved dead. This is part of a book I am writing on this topic. As part of the project, I’ve been talking with people about their memories of and their hopes for their beloved dead. I’ve asked a few of those people if they would be willing to record an episode for our show so you can listen in, too. This is the third of these episodes––on the previous two I hosted Laura Kelly Fanucci and Stephanie DePrez.My guest today––Robert Cording––is professor emeritus at College of the Holy Cross. His most recent poetry collection is Without My Asking (CavanKerry). You can find some of his other recent work in the Georgia Review, New Ohio Review, Hudson Review, and The Common.
42 minutes | Jul 26, 2021
Life is changed but something ended, with Stephanie DePrez
We are developing a mini-series here on Church Life Today about the relationship with our beloved dead. We’re talking about death, grief, longing, hope, and a lot more. This is connected to a project I myself am working on between the McGrath Institute for Church Life, where I work, and Ave Maria Press, which is a book on this topic. Animating that project are questions like “Where do our beloved dead go? How do they live? And what does this all mean for us, who remain?”I have been talking with people about their experiences of the death of loved ones and their desire for communion with them. I’m not recording all of these conversations, but I have asked a couple people—and maybe I’ll ask more––if they would be willing to record an episode for our show so that you can listen in, too. This is the second of those episodes, the first of which appeared under the title “Heaven in the Midst of Death.”My guest today is my friend Stephanie DePrez, a professional opera singer, a comedian, a voice coach, an artist. I’m so grateful to her for her willingness to talk with us today about her mom, Susie DePrez, and her own grief, desire, and hope.
36 minutes | Jul 19, 2021
Heaven in the Midst of Death, with Laura Kelly Fanucci
“Where do our beloved dead go? How do they live? And what does this all mean for us,who remain?”Those questions are animating a project I’m working on between the McGrath Institutefor Church Life, where I work, and Ave Maria Press as part of the EngagingCatholicism series. To help with this project, I have asked a few people ifthey would talk with me about their experiences of grief, about their hope forcommunion with loved ones who have died, and about their images of Heaven. I’mnot recording all of these conversations, but I am asking a couple (or maybethree) people if they would be willing to record an episode for our show sothat you can listen in, too.Today is the first of those couple or maybe three episodes. My guest is Laura KellyFanucci, a writer and speaker who has worked extensively on grief and longingand hope and vocation. But she’s also got a story you’ve got to hear. Thanksfor listening in.
32 minutes | Jun 28, 2021
Wanting: The Power of Mimetic Desire in Everyday Life, with Luke Burgis
What do you want? We get asked a question like that often: when you order at a restaurant, when generating a Christmas list, when at a crossroads in a dating relationship. But of course, there are differing levels of seriousness to that question: sometimes it is what do you prefer or what strikes your fancy, and sometimes it is what do you really want. In other words, what do you desire? It is hard to think of a more piercing or demanding question than that: what do you desire? What do you really want? But then again, there is another question that goes right along with that one that most of us don’t confront even if we do take seriously the question of what we want. That other question is how do we want… how do we desire. And it is precisely that hidden question of “how do you desire” right alongside the slightly more evident question of “what do you want” that my guest on today’s show takes utterly seriously, and helps us to take seriously, too. Luke Burgis teaches business at the Catholic University of America, where he is also Entrepreneur-in-Residence. An entrepreneur himself, he has co-created and founded four companies in wellness, consumer products, and technology. Now he is managing partner of Fourth Wall Ventures, an incubator that he started to build, train, and invest in people and companies that contribute to a healthy human ecology. On the basis of his extensive experience along with his equally extensive classical training, research, and spiritual formation, Luke has authored a book filled with stories of woe and transformation, analysis of the mysterious workings of desire, and proposals for beginning to lead a healthier, more creative, truly human life. His book is Wanting: The Power of Mimetic Desire in Everyday Life. You can find an excerpt of the book in the Church Life Journal in an article titled, “The Joy of Hate Watching.”
33 minutes | Jun 21, 2021
New Pathways for Catholic Schools After the Pandemic, with Kati Macaluso
“While the shift to at-home learning has underscored the ubiquity of learning, [especially since March 2020, it has also cast into sharp relief [a crucial but suddenly imperiled dimension of education, which is] the distinct gift of teachers and artful teaching.” Those words appeared in the Church Life Journal as part of an essay titled, “New Pathways for Catholic Schools After the Pandemic.” The author of that essay is Dr. Kati Macaluso. Kati works and teaches at the University of Notre Dame within the Institute for Educational Initiatives, where she forms new teachers and helps to strengthen Catholic schools all across the country. She enables us to see that the experiences of education over the past year now force upon us urgent questions about the meaning and end of education, about the special mission of Catholic education, and about what exactly we hope that our children receive through their education. What Kati has to share would always be relevant, but in our day and age it is not only relevant but timely and even prophetic.
28 minutes | Jun 14, 2021
My Techwise Life, with Amy Crouch
What if your decisions about how to use technology were based on your fundamental beliefs about what it means to be a human being, and what human flourishing is? Now, what if your children also made their decisions about technology in that way? I know that sounds like a doubly-tall task, like a fantastic sort of idealism. But what if I told you that this is not only doable, but utterly practical and liberating? And I know just the book that can help you think about the right use of technology, and help your kids to do so, too.My guest today is the author of that book. She is Amy Crouch, who wrote My Tech-wise Life: Growing Up and Making Choices in a World of Devices. In fact, she wrote this book when she was 19. I have read more books about technology than I’d like to admit, and I can tell you that this book is among the very best. Part of what makes it so spectacular is that Amy gives us a practical vision of how she and her family made their decisions about technology as a community and developed specific, intentional practices to cultivate their most cherished values while avoiding potential vices. And the book is just so readable, and enlightening. Amy joins me today to talk not just about her book, but about the vision of the good life that underlies her “tech-wise life” and how we can all make very small and practical decisions to be more fully and genuinely human.
28 minutes | Jun 7, 2021
Introducing the St. Thomas More Academy, with Margaret Blume Freddoso
When we educate our children, what are we educating them for? In the Catholic tradition, the end of education has always been sanctity: to form truly free, wise, virtuous disciples who love God and their neighbor. This kind of education concerns the cultivation of the whole person: mind and body, heart and imagination, especially in terms of the habits developed, the affections nurtured, and the abilities fostered and ultimately perfected.Over the past year on this show, I have spoken with a number of leaders across the country in Catholic education, including some who are reclaiming and reproposing classical, liberal arts education as distinctively conducive to the aims of Catholic formation and the holistic education of young people. If you have been listening to our show for a while, you may remember an interview with Elisabeth Sullivan of the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education, as well as a pair of interviews with Thomas Curtin, Head of School at Our Lady of the Rosary in Greeneville, South Carolina. If you don’t remember those, you can find those episodes on our podcast––and I recommend them to you.In line with those episodes, today’s conversation will also focus classical, liberal arts education in the Catholic tradition, except this time, it is all a bit closer to home… at least to my home, in South Bend, Indiana. My guest is Dr. Margaret Blume Freddoso, Head of School and board member of the St. Thomas More Academy in South Bend, which is a private, independent classical liberal arts school in the Catholic tradition, opening its doors with full enrollment in August 2021. Margaret holds a PhD in theology from the University of Notre Dame, as well as a BA from Yale University. Along with President of the Board at St. Thomas More Academy, Dr. Kirk Doran, and others, Margaret has been laying the foundation for and is now building this new classical, liberal arts school to pursue the ideals of a robust Catholic education, with a view to the full dignity and splendor of the human person in Christ.
28 minutes | Apr 26, 2021
Becoming the Adult in the Room, with Sarah Pelrine
When we are young, we need the guidance of mentors. We never really outgrow that need for guidance, but at some point, a change must take place if we are to reach maturity. Instead of always being the one who is guided and mentored, we become the ones who provide the guidance and mentoring to others. We stop always looking for the adult in the room because we have become the adult in the room.My guest today was recently awakened to the fact that she is very much at the threshold of that transition. Sarah Pelrine is a bona fide young adult Catholic, but one who is quickly moving away from the “young” part of that description and instead stepping into what it means to be an adult Catholic, a mature disciple. Professionally, Sarah works in the Archdiocese of Chicago where she applies her training in both theology and in business to help parishes undertake organizational transformations to better pursue their mission of evangelization. Personally, Sarah is relatively recently married but previously spent a great deal of time in her formative twentysomething years living and working in L’Arche communities. Together, we will talk about what we need and what we don’t need to be well-formed, engaged, and mature people of faith.
27 minutes | Apr 20, 2021
Praying into the Sacred Heart of Jesus, with Fr. Joe Laramie
The heart of the Christian is not his own. Instead, our hearts belong to Christ. Our lives as Christ’s disciples are an ongoing formation to love what he loves, to care for those whom he cares about, and to join him in offering our hearts to the Father. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is open to all of us.Fr. Joe Laramie of the Society of Jesus has been praying into the Heart of Jesus for decades. But now, he has been called to bring people from all across the country into this devotion, joining in the prayer of Jesus and offering our own hearts to the Lord. Fr. Joe serves as the National Director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, through which Catholics and others around the globe pray and work to meet the challenges of the world identified by the Pope in his monthly intentions, all while allowing the heart of Jesus to form our own hearts.Fr. Joe joins me today to talk about this apostleship of prayer, the relationship of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus to Ignatian Spirituality, and even his own book, Abide in the Heart of Christ, which leads people through a 10-day retreat at home.
30 minutes | Apr 13, 2021
The Real Presence, with Tim O’Malley
“The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life.” But do we, as Catholics, really understand what the Eucharist is? Let me rephrase that: do we really understand who the Eucharist is? Actually, let me try one more time: Do we fully revere and adore him who meets us in the Eucharist? Maybe we could use some help with all of that.My friend and colleague Tim O’Malley has written a book that will help all of us both to understand the Eucharist better and, especially, to grow in our love of the Eucharist through devotion, prayer, and longing. Tim’s new book is Real Presence: What Does It Mean and Why Does It Matter? The book is part of the new “Engaging Catholicism” series from our McGrath Institute for Church Life through Ave Maria Press, where we explore important but perhaps misunderstood doctrines and devotions of the Catholic faith.In Real Presence, Tim teaches us about the related but distinct doctrines of transubstantiation and of the real presence, but he does more than merely teach us things to know. He shows us how what we come to understand must be joined to how we pray, and how we allow the Lord to transform and illumine our spiritual senses as we meet him in the Eucharist. This is an utterly practical book even as it is an utterly learned book. And today, Tim joins me to talk about the Eucharist, Eucharistic formation, and Eucharistic spirituality.
28 minutes | Mar 29, 2021
Evangelizing through Film and Television, with Doug Tooke
God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. You’re familiar with that, aren’t you? But have you ever really thought about what that is saying. God loved the world. This world. This world that does not love God very well, and in fact more often rejects God that welcomes him. God loved this world so much that He gave this world what is most precious, most intimate, most beautiful: his only begotten Son. And you know what can embody and manifest that kind of love? Filmmaking. And television. I bet you didn’t see that coming. And I bet that you haven’t thought about the art of filmmaking or television in quite the way that my guest today thinks about it. But that’s why we’re here: to listen to what he has to say about it. My guest is Doug Tooke, Vice President for Ministry Advancement at Outside Da Box Films and Renovo Media Group. No one has ever had a boring conversation with Doug Tooke. You and I both are going to enjoy this conversation.
30 minutes | Mar 22, 2021
There is no such thing as winning at life, with Elizabeth Klein
“Life, for the vast majority of humans, is not very glamorous. It involves doing a lot of boring and tedious things like paying taxes, cooking dinner, and sweeping the floor. And yet, these everyday tasks seem to vex Millennials; this generation has suffered from widespread ridicule for laziness and for the inability to grow up. But, somewhat paradoxically, Millennials also seem exhausted.” Those words open an essay recently published through the Church Life Journal, where the experience of work and its consequences for especially Millennials living today was juxtaposed with the understanding of work that emerges from the Christian tradition and is hidden within the life of Christ. The essay is entitled “A Catholic Response to Workism: How to Lose a Life.” The author is my guest on today’s show. She is Elizabeth Klein, Assistant Professor of Theology at the Augustine Institute.
28 minutes | Mar 15, 2021
How the Sciences Train You for Faith, with Sofia Carozza, Part 2
The desire for Truth. The Passion for discovery. The education of reason. The fundamental claim about what it means to be a human being. Being formed as a person of faith through the rigors of the scientific method. All these things and more were discussed in the first part of my two-part conversation with Sofia Carozza, a Marshall Scholar at the University of Cambridge, studying in the field in neuroscience. Sofia is back for the second part of our conversation, to talk about the role of morality in the training of scientists, the breaking from disordered attachments, the education of desire, and prayer and companionship. I’m Leonard DeLorenzo, this is Church Life Today, a production of the McGrath Institute for Church Life in collaboration with the Spoke Street Media Network. I’m glad you’re here.
28 minutes | Mar 8, 2021
How the Sciences Train You for Faith, with Sofia Carozza, Part 1
“Hi, I’m so-and-so, and I’m a scientist. A Catholic scientist.” That might be how we would imagine an introduction in a support group for people who share a common problem. In this case, the problem would be being a person of faith in a field or profession within the sciences where prayer, belief, and openness to God would typically make you seem like less than you really should be. Or maybe we would imagine that, at best, the Catholic scientist can defend or give an adequate apology for religion and science being compatible. In other words, “It’s okay. Really. These things can coexist. I promise.” But what if we’ve gotten all wrong. What if rather than a problem to be eradicated or a dimension to be defended, there is a more profound, integral, and mutually enriching relationship to be heralded and explored in the person who is at once a person of faith and a person of reason: a Catholic and a scientist. That wider space is where my guest today leads us. She is Sofia Carozza, a Marshall Scholar at the University of Cambridge where she researches the neurobiological pathways through which early adversity affects the developing brain. She was the 2019 valedictorian of the University of Notre Dame, and now, in addition to her graduate work in neuroscience, she blogs at Synapses of the Soul and co-hosts the podcast, The Pilgrim Soul. Sofia and I will share a two-part conversation, and this is part one.
29 minutes | Mar 1, 2021
Guiding Young Adults from Affiliation to Leadership, with Nicole Perone
According to one recent study, fully half of the twentysomethings who were raised Catholic no longer practice the Catholic faith or name themselves as Catholic. Half. That’s troubling, isn’t it? Other recent studies have tracked the rates of disaffiliation from the Church and tried to identify some of the root causes of that disaffiliation. It is important for us to understand why young people are leaving the Church, but it is perhaps even more important to show young adults a Church they want to be a part of. That they desire to be a part of. That they are invested in and which is worthy of their investment and even their sacrifice. Nicole Perone is working toward that end. She is the National Coordinator of ESTEEM, a faith-based leadership program for Catholic students at colleges and universities across the United States. She joins me to talk about the challenges and opportunities of forming young adults for lifelong affiliation in the Church, the importance of mentoring and of developing leaders, and how we move together from being satisfied with cozy religious experiences toward becoming fully committed, courageous Catholics.
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