Affirmative Orthodoxy and…

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know that I’m a  proponent  of what John L. Allen has called “Affirmative Orthodoxy.” In his words this is “a tenacious defense of the core elements of classic Catholic doctrine, but presented in a relentlessly positive key.” Or, as Pope Benedict XVI has said,

Christianity, Catholicism,  isn’t  a collection of prohibitions: it’s a positive option. It’s very important that we look at it again because this idea has almost completely disappeared today. We’ve heard so much about what is not allowed that now it’s time to say: we have a positive idea to offer.

Unfortunately, in our evangelization and catechetical efforts, it can be easy to focus on the “thou shalt nots” of the faith, forgetting that these are first grounded in “thou shalts.” But if we want to attract people to the faith — if we truly want to be fishers of men — we must give them something positive to believe in together and not just focus on what we can condemn together.

As I said, this can be tricky. So beginning Monday, as an exercise for myself, I will be publishing a weekly series of blog posts demonstrating how some of the harder teachings of the Church can be presented first from a positive point of reference. The subjects I will be tackling are

  • Divorce
  • Excommunication
  • Contraception
  • Closed Communion
  • Gay Marriage
  • Abortion

I hope that you will find these posts interesting and helpful. I invite you to leave comments on the posts, especially if you’ve ever wrestled with how to answer questions about these doctrines from friends, family, or others. See you tomorrow!

“No other objective than to arrive at love”

The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends. Whether something is proposed for belief, for hope or for action, the love of our Lord must always be made accessible, so that anyone can see that all the works of perfect Christian virtue spring from love and have no other objective than to arrive at love.

The Roman Catechism  no. 10 (quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church)

VLCFF Course – Survey of Catholic Doctrine

I’m current preparing for my next Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation (VLCFF) course; registration is open:

Survey of Catholic Doctrine (August 7 through September 10, 2011) – “This course will look at some of the major doctrines of the Catholic Church. Participants will come to a better understanding of the Trinity, original sin, church, salvation history, and the communion of saints. Participants will be asked to identify the meaning of magisterium, ecumenism, eschatology, and other Catholic terms.”

Registration information is available at the VLCFF web site. Courses are $90, or $40 if you live in a partnering diocese.

Episode 004 – Memory Mansion

004How well do you know the Catholic faith? Can you name the Twelve Apostles? The Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy? How about the 44 Daughters of the Capital Sins?

This month’s guest, Dr. Kevin Vost, has written a book designed to help Catholics memorize these and many more elements of the faith. Memorize the Faith! (and Most Anything Else): Using the Methods of the Great Catholic Medieval Memory Masters presents a classical method for memorization endorsed by St. Albert the Great and St. Thomas Aquinas. The book utilizes this method to help the faithful memorize the Cardinal Virtues, the Beatitudes, all 73 books of the Bible — and more.

You can find out more about Dr. Vost and his latest book, From Atheism to Catholicism: How Scientists and Philosophers Led Me to the Truth, at his web site:

Click to Play – 004 – Memory Mansion