I generally steer clear of criticisms of our “separated brethren” on this site, thinking there’s enough work in the Church universal to keep my keyboard busy. But the over-sized Easter postcard invitation I received via snail mail today from Crossroads, a local big-box evangelical community, is just too much. On the front is the slogan “ESCAPE THE BAD NEWS. DISCOVER LIVING FULLY ALIVE.” On the back is following description:

Crossroads church is designed to inspire, equip and push you to get the best out of life. Easter will be amazing music, immersive video, and practical teaching. It’s come as you are, so throw on your jeans and baseball cap (OK, your kid can wear her Easter dress). No secret handshake, just free coffee, regular people, and 100 decibels of face-melting, soul-waking awesomeness. There’s even a sweet Easter experience designed just for your kids.

I’m not making that up.
No Jesus, no Resurrection.
Just a very busy A-V guy.

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In his daily Lenten reflection on the Gospel reading, Bishop Robert Barron corrects misrepresentations of the nature of the Atonement, a dogma routinely denied by Xavier University’s Ken Overberg, S.J., during his homilies at Bellarmine Chapel:

Friends, in today’s Gospel Jesus prophesies his crucifixion and his Father’s role in his coming death. What enabled the first Christians to hold up the cross, to sing its praises, to wear it as a decoration is the fact that God raised up and ratified precisely this crucified Jesus. “You killed him, but God raised him up.” Therefore, God was involved in this terrible thing; God was there, working out his salvific purposes.

But what does this mean? There have been numerous attempts throughout the Christian centuries to name the salvific nature of the cross. Let me offer just one take on it. It became clear to the first Christians that somehow, on that terrible cross, sin had been dealt with. The curse of sin had been removed, taken care of. On that terrible cross, Jesus functioned as the “lamb of God,” sacrificed for sin.

Does this mean God the Father is a cruel taskmaster demanding a bloody sacrifice so that his anger might be appeased? No, Jesus’ crucifixion was the opening up of the divine heart so that we could see that no sin of ours could finally separate us from the love of God.

It wouldn’t be Lent without Xavier University’s Ken Overberg, S.J., denying the Atonement, at this point surely an act of both material and formal heresy, before the students and attendees of Bellarmine Chapel.  Here’s a key snippet:

All too often we hear of ransom, sacrifice, and suffering and dying for our sins.
We may ask–we must ask–of this atonement theory: What does this say about God? What kind of God could demand such torture of the beloved Son? Is this the God revealed by Jesus in his words and deeds? Or has this part of the tradition slipped back into the ancient (but still popular) religion that believes violence saves?

When the Archdiocese of Cincinnati garners national media attention, I’d like to think it’s for the good things going on here, e.g., swelling priestly vocations, thriving wholesome apostolates, and innovative work on the Theology of the Body, not a gabfest hosted by a race-hustling chancery official:

“It is a blessing for this archdiocese, through the archbishop, to embrace addressing racism, the pervasive gun violence, restorative justice…race relations, and mental health, that our voice has to be heard,” said Deacon Royce Winters, director of African-American ministries for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

“That’s what we really wanted to do was to say as big and as powerful as the voice of the Catholic Church is in the United States, we have to do our part to bring about justice and the dignity of life for all peoples,” he told CNA.

The Feb. 28 meeting of Catholic leaders at Xavier University – entitled “Promoting Peace In Our Communities” – is a continuation of a years-long effort by Catholics to restore race relations and heal social tensions in the archdiocese, Deacon Royce said.

The current and former heads of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s worship office are conducting a four-part workshop on the liturgy at our territorial parish next month.  Dubbed Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi, it’s been a roadshow in the AOC for at least the past dozen years with frequent stops at this parish.  The current head was the co-author of an illicit licensing program* that attempted to suppress the celebration of the older form of the Mass when Pope Benedict XVI expressly liberated it (the other author used to be the parish liturgist), and the former thwarted efforts by local Catholics to restore  Eucharistic adoration.  That should give you some idea of the flavor of this workshop.  The shame of it all is that the parish, once dominated by dissenting baby boomers, now has new young families who would benefit from genuine liturgical catechesis.  For that they’ll have to make the one-mile drive to St. Cecilia.

*Interestingly enough, the guidelines, developed under Archbishop Emeritus Pilarczyk, are nowhere to be found on the archdiocesan website.

That’s how Marcus Mescher, a member of Xavier University’s theology department and a … chapel-goer at Bellarmine, ends his piece about going “beyond resistance” in the Trump era.

Really.

Funny, I don’t recall so-called conservative Catholics aping the catch-phrases of Reagan or Bush in the years that immediately followed their presidencies.

Let it suffice to say that it’s all politics all the time with this crowd.

Mescher’s cri de coeur was recommended by Ken Overberg, S.J., in one of his Bellarmine homilies, ‘natch.

Here’s a summarizing snip toward the end:

These five practices—cultivating prayer for shalom, practicing prophetic imagination, growing in advocacy, initiating inclusive dialogue and relationships, and participating in community organizing and collective action—are concrete avenues to be faithful to the demands of discipleship. …

Fr. Andre-Joseph LaCasse, O.P., the pastor of Cincinnati’s St. Gertrude parish, a center of dynamic orthodoxy staffed by Dominicans and host to the Dominican priory for the St. Joseph province, uses his column in the bulletin last weekend to catechize his flock on St. Thomas Aquinas, whose feast we celebrate today.  (BTW, it reads exactly like one of the informative, detailed, and practical homilies he reads from the lectern, even at weekday Masses.) Enjoy.

Saint Thomas Aquinas, Feast Day is January 28 (1225 – March 7, 1274)
By universal consent, St. Thomas Aquinas is the preeminent spokesman of the Catholic tradition of reason and of divine revelation. He is one of the great teachers of the medieval Catholic Church, honored with the titles Doctor of the Church and Angelic Doctor.

At the age of five he was given to the Benedictine monastery at Monte Cassino in his parents’ hopes that he would choose that way of life and eventually became abbot. In 1239, he was sent to Naples to complete his studies. It was here that he was first attracted to Aristotle’s philosophy.

By 1243, Thomas abandoned his family’s plans for him and joined the Dominicans, much to his mother’s dismay. On her order, Thomas was captured by his brother and kept at home for over a year.

Once free, he went to Paris and then to Cologne, where he finished his studies under the instructions of Dominican St. Albert the Great. He held two professorships at Paris, lived at the court of Pope Urban IV, directed the Dominican schools at Rome and Viterbo, combated adversaries of the mendicants, as well as the Averroists, and argued with some Franciscans about Aristotelianism.

His greatest contribution to the Catholic Church is his writings. The unity, harmony and continuity of faith and reason, of revealed and natural human knowledge, pervades all his writings. As one might expect Thomas, as a man of the gospel, was an ardent defender of revealed truth. But he was also broad enough, deep enough, to see the whole natural order as coming from God the Creator, and to see reason as a divine gift to be highly cherished. In St. Thomas we see a beautiful blending of both faith and reason. St. Thomas taught us all that these two important realities are never opposed to one another, but instead both are used to lift us up to the Holy Trinity.

The Summa Theologiae, his last and, unfortunately, uncompleted work, deals with the whole of Catholic theology. He stopped work on it after celebrating Mass on December 6, 1273. When asked why he stopped writing, he replied, “I cannot go on … All that I have written seems to me like so much straw compared to what I have seen and what has been revealed to me.” He died March 7, 1274.

Fortunately his secretaries and ardent theological followers knew his style of writing, as well as his vision, and finished the Summa for him.

We can look to Thomas Aquinas as a towering example of Catholicism in the sense of broadness, universality, and inclusiveness. We should be determined anew to exercise the divine gift of reason in us, our power to know, learn, and understand. At the same time we should thank God for the gift of his revelation, especially in Jesus Christ.

Saint Thomas Aquinas is the Patron Saint of Catholic schools, colleges, and students.