100% of Your RDA of Ken

The musings of Ken Hallenius, a Roman Catholic lay catechist and university administrator living in Portland, Oregon.
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Wherever we go, we are called as Christians to proclaim the liberating news that forgiveness for sins committed is possible, that God is greater than our sinfulness, that he freely loves us at all times and that we were made for communion and eternal life.
Pope Francis, Message for Lent 2014, n. 2.
It has been said that the only real regret lies in not being a saint (L. Bloy); we could also say that there is only one real kind of poverty: not living as children of God and brothers and sisters of Christ.
Pope Francis, Message for Lent 2014, n. 1.

It is my belief that the Mysteries of the Rosary can provide a starting point for a comprehensive, if not necessarily systematic, presentation of the Catholic faith. This has rich possibilities for the preacher and catechist. For example, at my home parish of Holy Rosary Church in Portland, we could present a 5-week series exploring one of the sets of mysteries, each week’s presentation consisting of the praying of a decade of the Rosary and then using that mystery to explore a facet of the faith.

In this post, I will take each of the Joyful Mysteries and explore some potential topics that are contained within them - many of these topics have come from my own contemplation of the mysteries over my years of praying the Rosary. The next step will be to research the relevant magisterial and theological resources that explicate each topic, as a reference for the preacher and catechist, or indeed for anyone who wishes to reflect on how popular piety can lead one to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ and the Church.

The Annunciation

  • the incarnation
  • angels
  • virtue of docility
  • contemplation/contemplative prayer
  • human and divine natures of Jesus Christ
  • God’s intervention in history
  • genealogy of Jesus Christ
  • Angelus prayer

The Visitation

  • John the Baptist
  • King David and the Ark of the Covenant
  • prophecy
  • meaning of motherhood
  • sanctity of life in the womb
  • Magnificat

The Nativity

  • the Virgin Birth
  • angels
  • poverty
  • the Magi
  • prophecy
  • Christmas traditions

The Presentation

  • consecrated life/religious life
  • prophecy
  • Jewish religious practices
  • the Temple
  • Compline (Nunc Dimittis)
  • Flight into Egypt

The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple

  • the Holy Family
  • Jewish religious practices
  • Mosaic Law
  • human knowledge of Jesus
  • hidden years of Jesus’ life
The thing about rabbit holes is they sometimes lead to a place where it seems nothing is true anymore. Friedrich Nietzsche said that—“nothing is true”—more than a century ago, arguing that the only way we might begin to get at a capital-T truth would be to first doubt everything.

From “We Fact-Checked Snapple’s ‘Real Facts’”, The Atlantic, Oct. 11, 2013.

Nietzsche wasn’t the guy who came up with the idea of skepticism, nor even the most famous skeptic. Rene Descartes posited the concept that you had to start by doubting everything more than 200 years before Nietzsche did, in Part IV of his Discourse on the Method (1637). He started with the fact of his self-awareness (the famous “I think, therefore, I am”), and worked up from there. Interestingly, his entire project was an attempt to scientifically prove the existence of God.

The professor who teaches Classical Chinese Ethical and Political Theory claims, “This course will change your life.”

Many of the ideas presented herein have parallels in Western philosophical and theological thought. I see the ideas of Virtue, Habit, and Custom all touched upon here - ideas that I studied in the Great Books of the Western World.

An example of the parallelism. First, as described in The Atlantic:

In the same way that one deliberately practices the piano in order to eventually play it effortlessly, through our everyday activities we train ourselves to become more open to experiences and phenomena so that eventually the right responses and decisions come spontaneously, without angst, from the heart-mind.

Here is William James in his “Psychology” (1892):

In action grown habitual, what instigates each new muscular contraction to take place in its appointed order is not a thought or a perception, but the sensation occasioned by the muscular contraction just finished. A strictly voluntary act has to be guided by idea, perception, and volition, throughout its whole course. In an habitual action, mere sensation is a sufficient guide, and the upper regions of brain and mind are set comparatively free.

There is nothing new under the sun.

"It is quite reasonable to believe that God does exist."

Laying aside any merits and demerits of distributism, when we canonize a saint we are not therefore saying that every idea or cause they undertook was necessarily holy. Canonizing Chesterton does not turn his various doctrines into Church dogma any more than canonizing Francis meant the institution of a new dress code.
Intimacy with the Word of God, cultivated in his years at the hermitage, had developed in him an irresistible urge to preach the Gospel, to give to others what he himself had received in his years of meditation. The missionary ideal thus launched him into pastoral care, his heart on fire… All his discourses aimed to develop in the faithful the use of intelligence, of true reason, in order to understand and to put into practice the moral and spiritual requirements of faith.
Pope Benedict XVI, Reflections on the Life of St. John Chrysostom, 19 September 2007.

When before has the hierarchy had the audacity to stand eyeball to eyeball with the highest court in the land and, with not the slightest dissimulation, announce: “No way”? When before has the leadership of the American Church proclaimed: “We shall not serve?”

This piece, a reprint from a 1973 opinion piece in America magazine, is well worth a read to help understand just why the US Bishops are absolutely correct to assert that the requirement that abortion and contraception coverage are included in Obamacare are assaults not only on Religious Liberty, but outright violations of the natural law.

So here’s something fun: the top Google image for “Archdiocese of Portland" is a picture of Archbishop Alexander K. Sample chatting with two Dominican brothers of mine: Fr. Vincent Mary Kelber, O.P., the Pastor of Holy Rosary Parish, and Fr. Stephen Maria Lopez, O.P., the Prior. I’d count that as an all-around WIN for orthodoxy.

I’ll be joining in Pope Francis’ call to fast and pray for peace tomorrow. Regardless of your stance on military intervention in Syria, every person of good will should support peace throughout the world.

It’s the feast day of St. Marinus, the founder of one of the oldest and smallest sovereign nations in the world, San Marino. Legend says that Marinus, a stonecutter and deacon ordained by the bishop of Rimini, established a republic at Monte Titano on 3 September 301, having moved away from Rimini as a result of the persecution of Christians under the Emperor Diocletian. Today, the “Repubblica di San Marino”, an independent enclave within Italy, is one of the few governments in the world to have no national debt, and even runs a budget surplus each year. Happy feast day to the Sammarinese!

Gregory never sought to delineate “his own” doctrine, his own originality. Rather, he intended to echo the traditional teaching of the Church, he simply wanted to be the mouthpiece of Christ and of the Church on the way that must be taken to reach God. He was a passionate reader of the Bible, which he approached not simply with a speculative purpose: from Sacred Scripture, he thought, the Christian must draw not theoretical understanding so much as the daily nourishment for his soul, for his life as man in this world.