I recently ‘attended’ an online symposium marking the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ Laudato Si. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I enjoyed the discussion and would definitely watch more of that sort of thing in the future. Zoom-fatigue notwithstanding, registration and attendance were basically frictionless. I watched it on the back porch. It doesn’t get a whole lot easier than that.
One of the speakers was author Paul Elie, and somehow his book The Life You Save May Be Your Own came up. I can’t recall if it was mentioned, or if I saw it while pulling up other links during the discussion. In any event, I was intrigued: here was a book featuring Flannery O’Connor, Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, and Walker Percy. How on earth was it possible that I hadn’t heard of it? Straight to the one-click-order screen. I had intended to wait until finishing The Dialogue but the weather was so nice on Memorial Day that I simply couldn’t resist. So far it’s wonderful. Elie weaves the stories of these four together into a sort of larger story of pilgrimage, of Catholicism with a peculiarly American savor. Among other things, it’s made me want to read more of Percy’s work. I read The Thanatos Syndrome years and years ago, but only remember bits and pieces of it.
Public celebration of Mass has resumed here, and we were able to receive several of our RCIA students last Sunday, God be praised. A few more will be received this weekend. After that we’ll start semi-regular (online) meetings for their neophyte year. This will be my particular focus and I’ve been putting some thoughts together on topics for presentation and discussion. My hope and intent is for these sessions to be more about praxis - the active life animated by faith and belief - rather than a guided tour of neato Catholic tidbits or a collection of stuff we never got to during Lent. Things like the methods and reasons for prayer, the colossal treasury of devotions, where to find answers, realizing a vocation, the interior life and so on. “Further up and further in,” as they said in The Last Battle. It’s a lot to bite off, but then again there’s no lack of time and space. The timing is good for something like this.