Archive for May, 2014

In the Heart of Texas

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

While in Dallas on a recent visit, I attended a Kiwanis Club meeting with my father-in-law. The small group was mostly elderly and included a number of veterans of various wars, including World War II, which was the subject of the meeting.

The chairman gave a review of a book about the last year of the battle against Hitler, detailing all the deaths from aerial combat, ground warfare, disease, bombing, and so on. At the end of the report, the chairman offered a personal remark, which I found extraordinary–given the location and the audience.

He said, “If I could vote President Obama out of office tomorrow, I would. But I thank God that he has kept us out of any more wars.” —J. Douglas Ousley

No News Is…

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

An unearthly quiet seems to have descended upon the Episcopal Church. Other than the recent divorce of Bishop Gene Robinson from his husband, there has been no real news. A group is working on a new vision for the Church, but the average layperson’s interest in that seems negligible. Any candidates in the campaign for Presiding Bishop–to be elected in summer, 2015–are apparently awaiting the announcement by the incumbent of whether she will run again. Bishop Jefferts-Schori is the first PB ever to be eligible for a second term; few bishops or others seem to want that, however, given the decline of the church during her time in office.

What’s next? Maybe this quiet period in Episcopal Church history will allow for growth at the parish level. In any event, it’s hard to see that some time out of the glare of negative media coverage will hurt the church. —J. Douglas Ousley

I Met a Saint

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

During the 1980’s, when I was serving the Episcopal Church of St. Paul’s Within-the-Walls in Rome, I had several occasions to meet Pope John Paul II. At that time, what few Italian Protestants there were declined to meet with the Bishop of Rome, so whenever the Vatican wanted to have an ecumenical service, foreign Protestant clergy would be invited. I must say that I found the Pope even more charismatic than his reputation attested. He was one of the most attractive and engaging people I have ever met.

Now that he has been canonized, I realize that I can claim to have met a saint–a claim that would have been rare in most of Christian history. Normally, the canonization process in the Roman Catholic Church takes many years, and those who knew the saint personally are long gone by the time he or she is officially pronounced a holy example for the Church.

This rapid canonization may be a sign of things to come. Our speed-obsessed age may be impatient with the old process. As people cried out in St. Peter’s Square after John Paul died, “Santo subito!” “Make him an official saint instantly!”

Whether or not this is a good idea–whether we will end up with hastily-chosen saints that later generations will regret–there’s no question that the Church and the world needs examples of extraordinary holiness.–J. Douglas Ousley