March 05, 2015
'God's Household' is a rich image of the Church
By Msgr. M. Francis Mannion

The Protestant scholar Paul Minear, in his book Images of the Church in the New Testament, identifies 96 ways of looking at the Church. Avery (later Cardinal) Dulles, S.J., (my one-time teacher) in his book Models of the Church shows how very important images are in understanding the Church.

Of all the images of the Church my favorite is the “Household of God.” The understanding of the Church as God’s household is rich in meaning, and it allows us to view the broad panorama of...

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February 26, 2015
Evangelization means the renewal of Catholic Institutions
By Msgr. M. Francis Mannion

The Catholic Church in the U.S. has been committed since Vatican II to a new and vigorous program of evangelization. However, discussions and writings on what this means have often suffered from inadequate clarity.

The word “evangelization” itself may be part of the problem. While it clearly means proclaiming the Gospel, it is not always evident how this takes place. Perhaps the word “evangelization” is hampered by its association with evangelical Protestantism with its emphasis...

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February 19, 2015
How priests and deacons should not give homilies
By Msgr. M. Francis Mannion

Fr. John. J. Conley, S. J., a professor of theology and philosophy at Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore, recently penned an article for the Jesuit periodical America entitled, “How Not to Preach.”

Fr. Conley identifies himself “as a veteran of 60 years in the pews and 30 years in the pulpit.” His description of Catholic preaching is both amusing and disturbing. He sets out three dangers that homilists need to avoid.

1. The homily is all about you, the priest. “Keep the...

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February 13, 2015
Banning altar girls: theologically unsound and pastorally imprudent?
By Msgr. M. Francis Mannion

In a January 26 statement, Fr. Joseph Illo, pastor of Star of the Sea parish in San Francisco, announced a new policy whereby altar girls at Mass would be phased out and thenceforth only boys would serve at the altar.

Fr. Illo gives both practical and theological reasons for the move: “First, in a mixed altar-server program, boys usually end up losing interest, because girls generally do a better job.”

As a long-time parish priest, this has not been my experience. Altar servers--both...

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February 05, 2015
If God is good, why is there so much suffering in the world?
By Msgr. M. Francis Mannion

Of all the agonized questions posed to me over the years, none is more difficult to answer than the problem of suffering. Here is my attempt at an answer.

According to the Book of Genesis, the world God created was the perfect world of paradise. But with the sin of Adam and Eve, the world fell from its original perfection, and the whole order which God created unraveled. Human history, both at the human and natural levels, has since then experienced suffering, evil, and tragedy.

In his...

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January 29, 2015
Housework can be a source of profound spirituality
By Msgr. M. Francis Mannion

One of the projects I have been undertaking in my spare time over the past month or so is going through my library and separating the books I want to keep from those I want to, well, get rid of.

One of the nice things about this project is rediscovering books that I read years ago but had forgotten. One such book is by Kathryn Allen Rabuzzi entitled, The Sacred and the Feminine: Toward a Theology of Housework. I recommend this book (published in 1982, but still in print) to anyone looking for...

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December 11, 2014
Celebrating the Three Comings of Christ in the Advent Season
By Msgr. M. Francis Mannion

During Advent we celebrate what are sometimes referred to as the "three comings of Christ": the coming of Christ in Bethlehem, the coming of Christ in glory at the end of time, and the coming of Christ today in the sacraments and life of the Church.

The first coming of Christ remains the central event of human history.  All time is dated from the birth of Christ.  The centuries leading up to Christ's birth are numbered B.C.: before Christ.  This year is officially the 2014th year since the...

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December 06, 2014
Is the Catholic Church Ready for the Mega Church Movement?
By Msgr. M. Francis Mannion

The Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, originally affiliated with the Reformed Church in America, was probably the best-known megachurch in the U.S. Designed by renowned architect Philip Johnson, the church was founded and led for many years by its famed pastor, Robert H. Schuller. The largest glass building in the world, the church has a seating capacity of over 2,700 people.

In 2010, the Crystal Cathedral filed for bankruptcy, and the building, along with the surrounding...

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November 27, 2014
Is it ever acceptable to call a nun 'miss'?
By Msgr. M. Francis Mannion

This question is the least profound – and most peculiar – that your columnist has had to deal with recently.  In a world in which proper etiquette and protocol are going you-know-where in a hand basket, one learns to take such questions in stride. (The answer to the question is, of course, no!).

As a firm believer that proper etiquette is one of society’s best defenses against rioting in the streets, I have selected from my imaginary mailbag the following ecclesiastical protocol...

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November 20, 2014
Christ the King celebrates the ultimate security of the world
By Msgr. M. Francis Mannion

The solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, brings the liturgical year to a dramatic conclusion. This Solemnity is of relatively recent origin. In fact, it was not declared a feast until 1925, during the reign of Pope Pius XI.  We might wonder why a Pope would go to the trouble of instituting such a Solemnity in the twentieth century--at a time when kings and monarchies were rapidly collapsing. We could ask: Is the solemnity of Christ the King not anachronistic?


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