This past June, Archbishop José Gomez visited the University of Notre Dame to address Catholic leaders from around the country who were on campus for Liturgy Week and other conferences hosted by the McGrath Institute for Church Life. In keeping with Liturgy Week’s theme, “Liturgy and the Domestic Church,” the Archbishop’s talk centered on the importance of the family and the need to discover ways that the Church can nourish and support family life.
2019 marks the fifteenth anniversary of Sufjan Stevens’ remarkable album Seven Swans. Apart from his Christmas albums, the twelve songs on Seven Swans are by far the most overtly Christian in Stevens’ catalog: track one, “All the Trees of the Field Will Clap Their Hands,” takes its title from Isaiah 55:12; track two, “Abraham,” meditates on the patriarch’s near-sacrifice of his only beloved son, Isaac. These sometimes scriptural, sometimes literary (“A Good Man is Hard to Find”), always spiritual musical meditations culminate in the final track of the album, “The Transfiguration.”
When a good friend proposed the idea of a weekly prayer group to our shared circle of friends, I jumped on the idea. My confession is that the eagerness I felt had less to do with the idea of praying and more to do with the thought of seeing this group of women regularly. We’re in a long-distance series of friendships, spanning two time zones and four states, and the prospect of having a particular reason to meet through video chatting every Tuesday thrilled me.
The Church designates July 26 as a relatively quiet “memorial” of Saints Joachim and Anne, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary. For me, however, there are few days in the liturgical calendar that evoke more energetic memories of a geographical community and parish family than this one. This is a feast of visceral evangelization that immerses all five senses and brings people together—close together.
The questions “Who am I?” and “Where do I belong?” are complicated for any high schooler, and perhaps even more so for young women attending a competitive, all-girls Catholic school. Sarah Shutrop, Director of Campus Ministry at Immaculate Heart Academy in Bergen County, New Jersey, helps many young women navigate the journey of self-realization and understanding one’s place in the community. On Church Life Today Shutrop discussed how the academic rigor of the college prep school often creates a culture of competition among women, making it difficult to feel a sense of belonging during a particularly formative period of their lives. The increasing influence of social media, especially Instagram, in which one’s image is carefully curated, adds to this problem by making it easier to label and define girls in superficial ways.