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March 26, 2015
The Eucharist is the ‘memory bank’ of the Church
By Msgr. M. Francis Mannion

When we celebrate the origin of the Eucharist on Holy Thursday, we cast our minds back to the Last Supper which Jesus shared with his disciples on the night before he died. However, the sacrament of the Eucharist is related not only to the Last Supper, but to every Mass celebrated through the centuries.

The Eucharist is imprinted with the life of the Church from its beginning and is the “memory bank” of God’s people.

The great Anglican Benedictine Gregory Dix, at the end of his...

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March 19, 2015
Is human society a covenant community or a marketplace?
By Msgr. M. Francis Mannion

The United States was founded as a covenant society – a society held together by a covenant with God and between citizens. This notion was uppermost in the minds of the Founding Fathers. Social institutions were to be inspired and directed by the concept of covenant.

Recent social commentators have lamented the break-down of this conception of society and the general social malaise it has wrought.
One of the most problematic trends that kills the notion of covenant is the...

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March 12, 2015
A new model of Catechumenal formation needs promotion
By Msgr. M. Francis Mannion

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is one of the most successful features of post-Vatican II liturgical renewal. It replaced the old inquiry class model, in which the priest (generally a priest) taught the inquirer (or inquirers) on doctrine and morals. The place of formation was the classroom, the symbol was the blackboard, and the leader was a lecturer. This model continues in some parishes today.

With the near demise of the inquiry class model after Vatican II, there...

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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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