Catholics on Climate Change

13 September 08 | Posted in Stewardship, U.S. Catholic

The Catholic Committee on Appalachia is distributing a 10-minute DVD for religious education classes, “Climate Change: Our Faith Response.”

A statement issued by the committee says the DVD presents “the irrefutable science behind global warming, how it will affect the poor and humanity’s moral responsibility to act.”

The committee is composed of the bishops, members of religious communities and lay leadership in the 27 Catholic dioceses in the Appalachian region.

“We hope (the DVD) raises awareness about creation as a precious gift from God and how climate change will particularly affect the poor and vulnerable,” said Fr. John Rausch, the committee’s director. rausch_tour.jpg

“Unless we change our wasteful lifestyles, we’ll reject God’s gift and the poor will be the first to suffer,” he said.

Becoming Fully Ourselves

10 September 08 | Posted in Animals, Arts and Letters, Global Catholic, Spirituality

In his book, The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis writes of a great journey through Heaven and Hell in a manner similar to Dante’s Inferno.  As they enter heaven, the visitor observes a woman enfolded in the glory of the divine energies surrounded by animals. The visitor is awed–thinking this is the BVM.

When he finally gets up his courage to ask the bus driver about the woman, the driver responds that no, this isn’t the BVM, but some humble woman who had rescued all of these creatures of God, and in her care, they became fully themselves. I would take Lewis a step further, in relationship with these animals, the woman also became more fully herself as well. They were her companions in prayer and life.

– From the blog, Bending the Rule


Walk The Blue Fields

6 September 08 | Posted in Arts and Letters, Global Catholic

Walk the Blue Fields is a new book of short stories by Irish writer Claire Keegan.  All but one of the seven stories is set in rural Ireland. blue3.jpg

In the title story, a priest marries a young couple and throughout the celebrations he is haunted by the memories of a love affair and the choice he made. When everything begins to close in on him, he leaves the party to walk.

Reflecting on the perennial question, “Where is God?” he discovers “tonight God is answering back. All around the air is sharp with the tang of wild currant bushes. A lamb climbs out of a deep sleep and walks across the blue field. Overhead, the stars have rolled into place. God is nature.”

St. Guinefort, The Sorceress & The Dominican Inquisitor

5 September 08 | Posted in Animals, Events, Saints, Spirituality

sacred-grove.jpgA Dominican friar, Etienne de Bourbon, was sent as an inquisitor to Sandrans, a small village north of Lyon. He relates his findings in the work, De SupersticioneIt was published in 1240 A.D.

One of the sections is called De Adoratione Guinefortis Canis, or, On the Worship of the Dog Guinefort. It relates the tale of the brave and loyal greyhound, Guinefort, or saves his master’s son from a snake who attempted to get into his crib. st_guinefort.jpg

Guinefort defended the baby and tossed the snake across the room. The snake bit the dog, and there was blood all over the dog’s head and nursery floor. The mother and the wet nurse came in to find the bloody scene. They screamed, bringing the knight in with sword drawn, who killed the dog.

Finding the baby safe and sleeping peacefully, they looked around for an explanation for all the blood. They discovered the snake dead and torn to pieces.

Realizing what really happened, and what they had done, the knight and women were filled with remorse and inconsolable regret. The dog was buried in a well, and his grave covered high with stones. Trees were planted around the site in the manner of a sacred grove.

The manor was abandoned by the family and the estate became wild land.

“The local peasants,” relates de Bourbon’s account, “hearing of the dog’s conduct and of how it had been killed, although innocent, and for a deed which it might have expected praise, visited the place, honored the dog as a martyr, prayed to it..” when their children were sick or needed help.

Infuriated to find “St. Guinefort” was a dog, the friar preached against his veneration. “We had the dead dog disinterred, and the sacred wood cut down and burnt, along with the remains of the dog.”

The tragic story seems to end there, but the French film The Sorceress (Le Moine et la Sorciere, 1987), written by Boston College medievalist Pamela Berger and directed by Suzanne Schiffmann gives it a new twist. the-sorceress.jpg

The premise of the movie is this: in a town near Lyons village people venerate Saint Guinefort, a greyhound who once saved a child from a deadly snake. When a Dominican friar repesenting the Church’s inquisition comes to town, he is outraged by what he sees as a mockery of the Christian institution of sainthood.

The friar destroys the grave of the holy dog and cuts down a tree nearby that the townsfolk believe to have healing powers. Later, however, he comes to regret his actions. As sort of a compromise with the villagers, the friar builds a chapel on the site of the sacred tree, and reinvents Saint Guinefort as a man-saint with a dog companion.

The shrine of Saint Guinefort continued to be visited for another 700 years, through the 1940s. Perhaps it still exists.

Sister Paula Gonzalez

1 September 08 | Posted in Stewardship, U.S. Catholic

Sister Paula Gonzalez, SC, Ph.D., is nicknamed the “solar nun.” paula.JPG

Sister Paula, 78, earned her doctorate in biology at the Catholic University in Washington, DC and was a biology professor at the College of Mt. St. Joseph in Cincinnati, Ohio for 21 years. She entered the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati in 1954.

After learning about solar energy more than 20 years ago, Gonzalez designed and did much of the work in converting a former chicken coop to an apartment she shares with another nun. “Casa del Sol,” is a 1500 foot super-insulated, passive solar house built with recycled materials. She also renovated a building on campus that is heated in the winter entirely by solar and geothermal energy.

The first Earth Day in 1970 inspired Sister Paula to think seriously about energy and environmental issues and about how to incorporate them into her biology classes at Mt. St. Joseph. Later, when a proposed nuclear plant received strong opposition, she realized that resistance alone can not solve energy problems – or any problem for that matter. It is also vital to develop creative, life-sustaining alternatives. She firmly believes: “We have to reach the moral cores of people, as well as their brains.”

The American Solar Energy Society’s Ohio Chapter, Green Energy Ohio, gave Sister Paula their Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.