Check out some of the most relevant articles and news stories for Millennial readers that hit the web over the past couple of weeks.
Kim Daniels explores the rise of pregnancy resource centers (which offer increased support for mothers and families) and the development of the ultrasound as factors leading to an increase in restrictions on abortion on a state level across the nation. These increased resources and access to information have been slowly changing minds and hearts about abortion rights and have led to changed laws around the country. “Millions of women and men have now grown up seeing an ultrasound as the first picture in their baby books, and this ‘ultrasound generation’ knows from lived experience that those pictures show living, smiling, kicking, crying babies.”
Formal dating seems to be losing significant amounts of ground among the millennial generation, and Alex Williams is determined to get to the bottom of it. The causes are numerous: a carryover from the college hookup culture, the ever-increasing use of technology to help meet people and gain instant access to background information (via Facebook or Google), and a dismal economy are all contributing factors. As a result, dating has now become more casual, often an informal hang-out with a group of people or a series of text messages and midnight phone calls. As Alex notes, “Instead of dinner-and-a-movie, which seems as obsolete as a rotary phone, they rendezvous over phone texts, Facebook posts, instant messages and other “non-dates” that are leaving a generation confused about how to land a boyfriend or girlfriend.”
As the generation of priests active in social justice movements during the tumultuous 1960’s begin to retire (or pass away), it remains to be seen how the Church will continue to carry on the important social justice work still necessary in today’s world. More and more, the laity is taking leadership and getting involved, but a shortage of priests overall – and more new priests entering the priesthood unfamiliar with the level of injustice that many face today – makes a fresh approach necessary. Maysek quotes Baltimore priest Father Wojtek, who said “it may be necessary to think of [social justice] in a different light. The phrase ‘social justice’ brings to mind notions of ‘rabble-rousing hippies.’” However, “social justice is about addressing present-day realities.”
Bishop Kicanas recounts his experiences with the poor who are struggling to merely survive in places such as Mexico, Myanmar, and Haiti, and even closer to home in his parish in Tucson. He reminds us, “As people of faith in this Year of Faith we are called to have hearts that sense where love is needed and to respond. We are moved to share what we have, to advocate on behalf of those in desperate need. We must stand in solidarity with the poor of the world. We must realize Christ’s charge to care for the weakest. We must seek to bring human dignity to those forgotten or ignored.”
Joan recounts the life of probably the most well-known and most-beloved saint, St. Francis of Assisi, and examines two recent biographies of him published by Andre Vauchez and Michael F. Cusato. The picture painted of St. Francis reveals an inspirational figure who fully embraced poverty and sparked a religious movement that is still active and relevant in our modern world, and “that at least one person had lived by the principles laid down by Christ and by the leaders of most of the world’s major religions”.
This is another great article from the USCCB, which is featuring guest blogs on poverty during January, which is Poverty Awareness Month. Thomas Patrick Malady was shocked to realize the toll that the economic recession had among children here in the United States; as he notes, “Simply put, one in four young children in the U.S. are being born and raised in poverty”, and Americans don’t seem to realize this startling fact. He calls for Americans and people of faith to get the word out and suggests action – perhaps mobilizing to make sure children have breakfast each morning at the start of the school day.
Poverty Rates Reflect ‘Serious Moral Failure’ by Bishop Jaime Soto (The Washington Post)
Bishop Soto wonders how the national dialogue might have differed if, instead of focusing on the tax breaks/increases of the wealthiest among us, we had focused on those living in poverty and struggling day-to-day. He affirms that “Caring for the poor is not just something nice the church does; it’s a part of who we are and essential to the church’s saving work”, and as people of faith, poverty needs to be not only a topic of conversation, but a point of action if we are to live up to the standards that Christ Himself put forth for us.
With Two Wings and One Heart, the Church Flies by Monsignor Charles Pope (USCCB Blog)
Monsignor Pope mourns the divisions in the Church today that have effectively divided us into “social justice” and “pro-life” camps, which should be working together towards the common goal of advancing the Kingdom of God. He argues, “More than ever the poor, the needy, the unborn, our families, our youth and all who are vulnerable in any way need and deserve our Catholic unity, need the whole counsel of God. We cannot allow politics and ideology to go on dividing us and turning us against one another.” He further argues that, regarding addressing the problems of poverty, “a truly Catholic solution will seek to weave together broad-based solidarity with the poor that includes public, private and ecclesial partnerships.” These solutions will need the perspectives of ALL members of the Church, working together with the poor.
Pope: Charity, illuminated by faith (Vatican Radio)
The Pope recently warned against ideologies which embrace man’s autonomy, leading to solitude and to the ultimate harm of the integral good of man. “In recent centuries, the ideologies which celebrated the cult of the nation, race, social class proved to be true idolatry, and the same can be said of unbridled capitalism with its cult of profit, with the resulting crisis, inequality and poverty.”
Sinners, Saints, and Skin: A Lesson on Modesty at Mass from St. Mary of Egypt by Caitlin Kennell Kim (Busted Halo)
Caitlin Kennell Kim draws on the story of St. Mary of Egypt, a prostitute who had a powerful religious experience outside the doors to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and was compelled to enter and worship God – scantily and lasciviously clad. She contends that arguments for modesty and respecting the sacramentality of the Eucharist and presence of God notwithstanding, proper dress in Church should be a non-issue. After all, as she puts it, “Our God is the God of hospitality … the God of welcoming the stranger, of touching the untouchable, of embracing the social outcast, of claiming the abandoned, of looking at you and me and all of us for what we are deep down in our marrow (where there is no hiding behind hemlines and sport coats and other outward demonstrations of our supposed piety) and saying, ‘This is good. I can work with this.’”
The Vatican Ambassadorship by Michael Sean Winters (National Catholic Reporter)
As speculation heats up over who will be appointed the next Ambassador to the Vatican, Michael Sean Winters jumps to the defense of two prominent Catholics who have been put forth as potential prospects but have been recently maligned by Michelle Bauman of the Catholic News Agency, presumably because neither have been Republican lapdogs. Of Stephen Schneck and Nicholas Cafardi, Winters says, “Both men are deeply committed to the democratic process, and the education that is essential to making that process work, unafraid to say that we must bring our Church’s moral and spiritual influences to bear on our culture and our political life but also mindful that doing so in a pluralistic society requires tact, a capacity to listen as well as to speak, a dialogical personality if you will.”