Understanding Mary Today: Foundations of Faith Resources

Incredible that this quick course is already coming to an end. Thank you to all who have attended even just one session. I hope that everyone has learned at least something about their Catholic faith.

For this last session, my new class coincides with an older IC parish tradition, the Advent Soup Supper. So while the format of the class in terms of discussion and lecture will remain about the same to previous weeks, this week there will be soup! Many thanks to the education commission for their hard work providing drinks for all the sessions and organizing the soups for tomorrow night.

As for the topic, “Understanding Mary Today,” it is chosen because prior to the session, we will celebrate the parish’s patronal feast, that of the Immaculate Conception.

As such, I have put together a packet of readings spanning from 374 A.D. up to Vatican II of texts pertaining to some of the key teachings of the Church regarding Mary, in particular her Immaculate Conception. Through these readings, and the class, we will see the beautiful interconnectedness of different teachings of the Church about Mary and how she lived them out in her life.

Understanding Mary Today: Reading Packet (Click the link to download the .pdf packet)

See you all tomorrow night! Mass is at 5:30 in Church, and the class immediately following.

Understanding Jesus Today: Foundations of Faith Resources

Having completed weeks on Faith and Reason, and various topics associated with Revelation, the class enters it’s final phase and week.

In the next week there will be two sessions. The first on Monday December 3rd will look at “Understanding Jesus Today.” The later session will be a follow up of sorts on “Understanding Mary Today.”

As for the readings for this session on Understanding Jesus Today, they come from one document. This document is not magisterial text of the Church, but rather was put together by a group of theologians who consult the Vatican, known as the International Theological Commission.

The document is titled, “The Consciousness of Christ Concerning Himself and His Mission.” The document was written in 1985, which gets us fairly close to the “Today” portion of the session title. To read the entire document click here. I have cut out the introduction and methodological sections to just give you all the meat. This looks at four questions, which we will examine on Monday.

  1. Jesus’ understanding of being the Son of God the Father
  2. Jesus’ understanding of his mission
  3. Jesus’ understanding of his founding the Church
  4. Jesus’ understanding of his love for all

The text is full of citations from Sacred Scripture, so I highly recommend having a Bible in hand when you sit down to read the text.

Reading Packet: Understanding Jesus Today (Click link to download the .pdf)

See you all Monday evening!

Scripture & Tradition: Foundations of Faith Resources

After a two week break, last week we picked up the class again with a session on, “Origins of Sacred Scripture.” I thought the conversation and dialogue was some of the best yet.

This week we conclude the three week sub-unit on Revelation, as we carry the conversation from Sacred Scripture to now discuss Scripture & Tradition.

This week the readings come from Vatican II, the Council of Trent, and the Pontifical Biblical Commission.

Scripture and Tradition (Click on link to download the .pdf)

I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving! See you all Monday in Kertz Hall at 6:30 PM.

Also, for a little bit of a preview of this week’s discussion, you can listen to a homily I gave last week:

UPDATED Foundations of Faith Class Schedule

Due to the snow, subsequent closure of school, and therefore cancelation of my class on Monday night, I have decided to make the following revisions to the upcoming schedule of classes. I wanted to communicate this information as soon as possible.

To see material already covered this session on, “Foundations of Faith.” Visit this hub.

Upcoming Dates & Topics: 

All classes are held from 6:30-8:00 PM in Kertz Hall at Immaculate Conception in Jefferson City

  • November 19, 2018 – Origins of Sacred Scripture (Click here for the readings)
  • November 26, 2018 – Scripture & Tradition
  • December 3, 2018  – Understanding Jesus Today
  • December 7, 2018 – Understanding Mary Today

The last session will be on a Friday night after the Vigil Mass for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and will also be the Advent “Soup Supper,” for the parish.

Origins of Sacred Scripture: Foundations of Faith Resources

42929581_1142448702598395_2499045971221020672_nAfter a week off in the Foundations of Faith adult education series. I am sorry for the delay in posting the readings for Monday, I have been playing catch up after my return from the beatification of Blessed Clelia Merloni.

This week will be the most historical or concrete of the sessions until we get the weeks on Jesus and Mary. We will be examining the origins of Sacred Scripture, or in other terms, “Where does the Bible come from?”

This week’s readings come from a variety of sources from Sacred Scripture, the second century, all the way to Vatican II.

To review any of the previous weeks, check this hub.

Origins of Sacred Scripture (Click the link to download the .pdf)

See you Monday night at 6:30 in Kertz Hall

Faith & Science: Presentation Slides

I am so grateful for the amazing turnout we’ve had for both sessions of my new class, “Foundations of Faith,” there were after 97 the first night, we had 106 the second week. Of course even better than the numbers is the quality of questions and discussions I’m hearing from everyone attending.

For those that weren’t able to make it, or those who want to review, here are the PowerPoint presentation slides on “Faith & Science.” The readings can be found on this page. As the weeks go on, all resources (readings and slides) will be found at this hub.

Faith & Science: Presentation Slides

Faith & Science: Foundations of Faith Resources

After a great turnout Monday night for the first session of “Foundations of Faith,” it is now time to turn attention to next week.

While this week we covered Faith and Reason, next week we extend that philosophical conversation to a more practical conversation regarding the relationship between faith and science.

For this week, instead of a collection of excerpts, I have selected a single letter composed by St. John Paul II in 1988 to the then director of the Vatican Observatory.

Faith & Science: Reading Packet

I look forward to seeing everyone on Monday night, feel free to invite a friend!

If you missed the reading packet or slides from any week, all resources can be found at this hub.

Faith & Reason: Presentation Slides

I am so grateful for the amazing turnout for the first session of my new class, “Foundations of Faith,” there were 97 in attendance on Monday night.

For those that weren’t able to make here are the PowerPoint presentation slides. The readings can be found on this page. As the weeks go on, all resources (readings and slides) will be found at this hub.

Faith & Reason: PowerPoint Slides

Faith & Reason: Foundations of Faith Resources

Starting next Monday I will be beginning an adult education course “The Church in the Modern World.” This particular seven session series is titled, “Foundations of Faith.

The first class is Monday October 15, at 6:30 P.M. in Kertz hall at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Jefferson City. The class is open to all adults.


The first week’s topic: Faith & Reason

Every week on Wednesday (this time on Monday) I hope to write a short post such as this introducing the topic and providing a .pdf with some readings to look at in advance if you are so inclined. It is by no means necessary to read the packet before the class. If you do have a chance to read it, please come ready with questions. If you can’t make it a given week, or you want to browse through other topics they all we available at this hub.

Faith & Reason: Reading Packet

Each of these packets will contain excerpts from various Church documents. Most of them should be available in their entirety at the Vatican’s web site: www.vatican.va

This week’s excerpts come from the following documents:

  • Sacred Scripture (the Bible)
  • Catechism of the Catholic Church
  • Vatican I, Dei Filius (1870)
  • Vatican II, Dei Verbum (1965)
  • St. John Paul II, Fides et Ratio (1998)
  • Pope Francis, Lumen Fidei (2013)

Lastly a few quick housekeeping notes as they are questions I’ve been asked a lot:

  1. The class is FREE
  2. You DO NOT need to register (though there will be chance to sign up for e-mails)
  3. Catholic teachers of any Catholic school in the Diocese of Jefferson City who are Level III Catechists can count these hours towards their ongoing formation. (There will be a special sign-in form for you to sign)
  4. Permanent deacons of the diocese can likewise count these towards ongoing formation.

See you on Monday!

As always, feel free to contact me with any questions.

On Peter’s Pop Quiz


This past week when I was visiting classes I noticed that the students are getting to the point in the quarter where they are beginning to take tests and quizzes. Gone are the fun days of August and handball, now it’s time to get to work. In many ways that dynamic is mirrored in Mark’s Gospel today. Last week we heard about Jesus healing and performing miracles. That’s the fun part, everybody loves a good miracle. Today, along the road, things get more difficult, Jesus gives the apostles a, “pop quiz.”

First there is the “multiple choice” part of the quiz. “Who do people say that I am? John the Baptist? Elijah? One of the Prophets? The Christ? Well it looks like Peter did a pretty good job with the multiple choice, he manages an “A” on that part of the quiz. However, on the second part of the quiz, the “short answer” part, he doesn’t do so well. But instead of writing, “F+” at the top of his paper, Jesus writes, “Get behind me Satan!”

Joking with the analogy aside, what does the story reveal to us about our relationship and knowledge with Jesus? By getting the multiple choice right, but not the short answer, he shows us that we all still have more to learn. As my favorite philosopher and theologian says, for every light of knowledge we gain into Christ, there is still an infinitely greater darkness. It’s true for all of us. We all have more to learn about Christ.

In terms of how to learn more about Christ, Jesus gives us a little clue later in the Gospel. He warns Peter that he was thinking “not as God thinks, but as human beings do.” Note, he doesn’t say “not as God memorizes, but as human beings do.” He says, “thinks.” This is why we must do more than just memorize the decades of the Rosary, the Commandments, the Sacraments, and the Beatitudes etc. We must learn to think deeper about these issues.

This is why when I taught high school I told the students, I don’t just want you to learn what the Church teaches, though I obviously want that, I really want you to learn how the Church thinks. I don’t want it to be well Fr. So-and-so said this, but Fr. So-and-So said that. I want you to be able to know what the Church says, and how the Church thinks. This is why they were so excited when I told them on the first day of class I would give them the final exam question. Every student, even me last year, wants to know what’s going to be on the exam. So they were thrilled when I told them I would give it to them up front. Then I told them, their exam would be just one question, “Connect the dots.” In other words, demonstrate how the Church thinks about these different issues and how they are connected by a common reasoning, a consistent way of thinking.

When adults heard about the class, they said they wanted to take it too. So in Columbia I launched an adult education class. I’m happy to announce that starting next month on October 15th, I’ll be launching the class here at IC in Jeff City, “The Church in the Modern World: Foundations of Faith.” This way you too can learn a little more about how to, “think as God thinks, not as humans do.” To that end, don’t worry, you’re not going to have to sit there and listen to me talk for an hour and a half.

For the first half hour or so, we will open up the floor for questions. It won’t be Q & A, but rather Q & Q. That is continuously asking more questions as we attempt to delve deeper into the issues, kind of like peeling back the layers on an onion. In the second half hour, I will present a summary of different Church texts, so you can see what the Church actually teaches about these issues, and not what someone says the Church teaches. In the last half hour, we’ll reopen the discussion to see how the first two parts work together, how it is that the Church attempts to answer some of the questions raised, how the Church thinks about these different issues.

This time around I’m doing seven weeks called, “Foundations of Faith,” with topics or issues chosen together with our parish education commission. In the Winter and Spring, I’ll open it up to everyone to help pick out the topics.

I want to conclude by way of a little bit of a preview of sorts, as the topic the first week will be “Faith and Reason.” I’ve been talking about learning to think, “not as God does, but as human beings do.” It’s important that in hearing that line we don’t create a false dichotomy where on one side there is how God thinks, and on the opposing side, how human beings think. Rather, we believe that human reason is a good. Furthermore, that it is a gift from God. So it isn’t about rejecting reason in the name of God, but rather allowing God, and faith rather to be infused with our reason. To allow them to elevate our reason to its fullest potential. In that way, while we like Peter, may not know everything, passing the multiple choice, but not the short answer, may begin start thinking as God does and not as human beings do.

 ChurchinModWorld poster