Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Next Up: Year Two Opening Scripture Day

Fr. Thomas Stegman, SJ
Recently named Dean of Boston College's School of Theology and Ministry, Fr. Tom Stegman would probably be wise to "beg off" more pastoral pursuits. After all, his duties at BC have just about tripled. But he holds firm to his commitment to sharing God's Word with the ordinary people of God, like us in the Hartford Catholic Biblical School. And we are grateful.

As preparation for our second-year students' studies in New Testament, Fr. Stegman will introduce Paul and his letters on Saturday, September 17, in our final Opening Scripture Day of 2016-17.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Binz Energizes First-Year Students

Speaking of holy desire, God's desire for humanity was front and center in the Catholic Biblical School's Opening Scripture Day in many ways, but especially in the teaching of Stephen J. Binz, in the preaching of Fr. Michael Dolan, and in the support and assistance of the CBS faculty and staff. A "shout out" goes to Jill Costa and Alexis Chacchia for your unwavering hospitality and guidance!)

Perhaps even more evident, though, was the new students' desires for God's holy presence. As we watched their faces and listened to their questions, a deep desire for God was as palpable as the muggy air of a hot New England summer's day. (It's true: our desire for God can trump our desire for comfort!)

Is Desire a Dirty Word?

I don't think so. Here's why.

Sometimes, the heritage of Greek philosophy in the New Testament and of Puritanism in the US can blind us to the deep beauty of our desire. So we usually think of desire as something wholly to be avoided. The desires are often cast as dark, sinister forces within us that must be tamed, sometimes brutally.

Underneath this skewed vision of desire, there is of course some truth: Our desires, like our will and our mind, when distorted by sin can lead us astray. The Sermon on the Mount has been cited to support this idea (though there is much more going on there).

But we know, by the grace of God in Christ Jesus, that desire is also what drives us toward that grace! In the context of both the Old Testament and the New Testament, desire, at its root, is a gift from God. The longing of the human soul for God is shown to be the deepest desire, and the desire that orders all the rest.

We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. Romans 8:22-23
 And it is God's desire for us that is the foundation of covenant and cross:

It was I [God] who taught Ephraim [a name for God's people] to walk,
    who took them in my arms;
    but they did not know that I cared for them.
I drew them with human cords,
    with bands of love;
I fostered them like those
    who raise an infant to their cheeks;
I bent down to feed them.    Hosea 11:3-4

Indeed, the holy longing of human intimacy is the image of God's longing for us. Deep longing is the core of Love Himself, as in the Song of Songs:
Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; For Love is strong as Death, longing is fierce as Sheol. Its arrows are arrows of fire, flames of the divine.  SS 8:6
A new edition of Philip Sheldrake's book explores these ideas in depth:

Befriending Our DesiresThird Edition
Philip Sheldrake, Liturgical Press

The power of desire, while embodied and sensuous, is God-given and the key to all human spirituality. Drawing on Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, Christian spiritual classics (with some reference to Buddhist spirituality), poetry, and other literature, plus personal and pastoral experience, Philip Sheldrake explores the role of desire in relation to God, prayer, sexuality, making choices, and responding to change.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

It's Not Too Late!

We still have a few spots in our Catholic Biblical School classes, so we are smashing through the old deadlines and inviting folks to enroll in the Biblical School by September 8.

This carefully designed program is considered by many to be the "gold standard" of Bible studies in the Archdiocese of Hartford and is authorized by Archbishop Blair himself. As he reminds us: “The Hartford Catholic Biblical School provides adults the opportunity to encounter the Word of God in prayerful, in-depth and faithful ways that prepare them to become evangelizing leaders in their faith communities.” 

And here's what some of our graduates have to say:
"This class was beyond my wildest dreams."
"It inspires me to better myself."
"I feel closer to God and find greater meaning in the mass than ever before."
"Evangelize, evangelize, evangelize. This class has given me the power to 'take it to the streets.'"

If you are "on the fence," email us to find out more at catholic.biblical.school@aohct.org; or call Jill Costa or BJ Daly Horell right away at one of these numbers: 860-242-5573 or 203-880-4807.

Or go onto our website: http://www.orehartford.org/joomla2/index.php/our-programs/catholic-biblical-school/the-program 

We will expedite the application process for you, but you will need to set up a meeting with BJ before our Opening Day on September 10.

Wishing you the grace of knowing God's Word more fully!