The Right to Be Yourself?

If authentic naming or identifying is a strictly private, self-governed enterprise, what is there that is truly public? If my public persona is entirely under my control, and if I can die to my old self and rise to my new self any time I choose and in whatever manner I choose, and if indeed I am not to be burdened by my old “dead” name, as the Dean of Law says, in what sense is my persona public? Continue Reading »

The Most Important Day of Your Life

During talks around the country in recent years, I’ve been asking Catholic audiences how many of those present know the date of their baptism. The high-end response is a little under 10 percent. The average is about 2 to 3 percent. This, brethren, is a problem. You know your birthday. You know (or . . . . Continue Reading »

The Merciful Grace of the Truth

At the Easter Vigil a few weeks ago, tens of thousands of men and women, mature adults, were baptized or entered into full communion with the Catholic Church. Each of them walked a unique itinerary of conversion; each of these “newborn babes” (1 Peter 2.2) is a singular work of the Holy Spirit. . . . . Continue Reading »

Mary at Baptism?

On an escarpment high above the Euphrates River in eastern Syria sit the ruins of Dura-Europos, one of the most important archeological finds of the twentieth century. Founded in 303 BC by the Seleucid successors of Alexander the Great, this ancient caravan city of some 8,000 to 10,000 people was . . . . Continue Reading »

Briefly Noted

Faith, Fiction and Force in Medieval Baptismal Debates by marcia colish cua, 384 pages, $69.95 B aptism seems so simple: water and the formula “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” But like so many religious practices, it can be celebrated in different ways, with . . . . Continue Reading »

Owning Our Baptism

The transfer of the celebration of the Epiphany to a Sunday from January 6 (the solemnity’s traditional date), and the elimination of Sundays-after-Epiphany in favor of the ill-named Sundays of “Ordinary Time,” has made a hash of the Christmas liturgical season, as I suggested in “Evangelical Catholicism.” Still, the liturgical calendar of Blessed Paul VI does us a service by highlighting the formerly insignificant Feast of the Baptism of the Lord as the terminus of the Christmas season. Continue Reading »

Troubled Waters

The Southern Baptist Convention is the largest Protestant denomination in America and has been since around 1960 when it bypassed Methodism in this category. Riding the wave of the post-World War II evangelical boom, Southern Baptists long ago moved beyond their old confines south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Southern Baptist churches are now located in all of the fifty states. Led today by the Reverend Fred Luter, their first African-American president, Southern Baptists have become one of the most ethnically diverse and multilingual denominations in the country. Continue Reading »

A date to remember

Papal approbation being no bad thing, I was delighted to learn that Pope Francis, in a homily a few weeks ago, had suggested that his congregants learn the date of their baptisms and celebrate it—which is precisely what I have been proposing to audiences around the country this past year, when . . . . Continue Reading »