Resources for Lent 2016

It’s hard to believe that Lent is upon us so quickly this year. Next year, Ash Wednesday will be nearly three weeks later – March 1, 2017! How will you Fast, Pray & Give this year.

Here’s a few resources I’m looking at this year:

USCCB – “Lent 2016: 40 Days of Mercy

Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl – I especially like their weekly, meatless recipes from around the world. Hopefully they will again have videos of Fr. Leo demonstrating each one.

Loyola Press Lenten Resources especially their Online Lenten Retreats & Prayers

Creighton University On-Line Ministries: Praying Lent – I highly recommend this audio retreat presented by the wise Fr. Larry Gillick, S.J.

Other Jesuit Lenten resources can be found at Thinking Faith and the audio-focused Pray As You Go – both from the U.K.

Bishop Robert Barron’s Word on Fire Lenten Resources  (includes a link to sign up for his daily Lenten reflection emails.)

As of today (Monday), Busted Halo hasn’t posted their popular Lent calendar yet. They have a few Lenten themed articles as well as this excellent Ash Wednesday in Two Minutes video:

Last year for both Lent and Advent I found the resources offered by the Society of St. John the Evangelist to be faith and thought provoking.  This year’s theme, which encompasses daily videos, emails and a workbook is entitled: Growing a Rule of Life. It begins with this introductory video by one of the wise brothers:

And it even has a component for use with youth.

In light of Pope Francis’ groundbreaking celebration of God’s Creation, “Laudato Si” how about connecting your Lenten fasting to activities which care for creation. A number of faith organizations offer Lenten calendars with suggestions for each day:

Sisters of St. Joseph Carbon Fast

Michigan Interfaith Power & Light

Carbon Fast – Anglican Communion

St. Francis Cabrini Community

More extensive “carbon fast” programs, including daily emails and message boards, are offered by MACUCC and EcoChurch Southwest (U.K.)

Shifting gears to focus on apps, Give Us This Day is offering a free trial of their app featuring the day’s morning & evening prayers as well as the daily mass.

Finally, props to a great blog site – Catholic Apptitude and their listing of apps and related resources for Lent.

 

 

OSU Talk on Laudato Si by Cardinal Turkson

On Monday the 3rd I trekked down to the OSU campus for a presentation the National Catholic Reporter called “a watershed event for climate discourse.”  Cardinal Turkson, the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, was the featured speaker.   The first cardinal from the nation of Ghana is a key advisor to Pope Francis and some even perceive him as a possible future pope. 

After Cardinal Turkson spoke for about twenty minutes on Laudato Si, he sat down with OSU President Dr. Michael Drake for a brief “fireside chat.”

Cardinal Turkson -3

The inspiring evening concluded with an encore performance by a local gospel choir.

Please see below for the images of the notes that I took during both parts of the presentation. Click on the image of each page to enlarge it for easier reading.

LS Talk -1

LS Talk - 2

LS Talk - 3

Cardinal Turkson - 1

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LS Talk - 6

The Beauty of Mathematics and the Predator/Prey Relationship

I’m preparing to teach my students the Genesis creation myths and so I’m reviewing the delightful, scientifically-rich, and theologically-expansive book Seven Glorious Days: A Scientist Retells the Genesis Creation Stories by Karl W. Gilberson.  In the chapter entitled: “Day 2: A Universe of Horseshoe Nails” he writes:

“Unfortunately, few of us have any idea what it might mean to describe mathematics as beautiful and even less an idea about the mystery raised by its existence…replace the beautiful music [in an analogy previously used in the chapter] coming from the abyss with the mathematical equations that physicists have discovered at the foundations of reality.  On the surface, nature is, to be sure, noisy in the sense of being cluttered, busy, and seemingly without patterns.  Even beautiful scenery – picture a mountain lake with snowcapped mountains in the background – rarely seems organized.

But as we apply our scientific knowledge to the cluttered world we experience and drill down to the bedrock of our understanding – eliminate the noise – we find something quite wondrous.  At the end of the great hallway that takes us from the social sciences to the natural sciences, through biology and chemistry and ultimately to physics, we find ourselves at last in the presence of a most beautiful and unexplained symphony of mathematics.  Across the dark abyss, explaining the world around us while remaining unexplained itself.  It is part of the Logos of creation.” (p.54-55)

I thought of this profound insight this morning when reading the Washington Post and this short article entitled: “Scientists May Have Just Stumbled Upon a Mathematical Secret to How Nature Works”  It’s worth reading to understand how the unexpected consistency of the numbers of predator and prey in a wide variety of ecosystems might be explained by a single mathematical equation.

And the pattern in these changes is governed by — you guessed it — that same mathematical function.

The recurrence of this function in many levels of the natural world indicates “that there might some kind of process that exists at multiple levels of organization,” Hatton says. “The cell, the tissue, the body, the community: Those are all levels of organization in ecology-speak. I think that this suggests that there could be processes that sort of recur, recapitulate, across different levels.”

In the meantime, for researchers who like a good puzzle, the paper provides another mystery to chew on — one that, once unlocked, could reveal many secrets about how the natural world works.

Great, Short (60 seconds) Evolution Video to Show in Class

Don’t you love it when something lands in your inbox that you can literally use the next day?  We’ve been talking in my freshman class about the symbolism of the Genesis creation stories.  One fruitful area of discussion is how one can believe in the Deeper Truths of those stories and also what science teaches us about evolution.  Pope Francis got a lot of attention when he affirmed this just a few months ago. As I tell my students: As long as you believe that God created everything and that everything God created was good, then the “how” of creation can include evolutionary theory.

So, thanks to Buzzfeed and Open Culture, here’s the video I’ll be showing tomorrow:

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Access it directly at YouTube.

And I’ll be giving my students this brief article from our local Catholic Times (scroll to left side of page 6)