New Reflection on the Visitation at Spiritual Uprising Magazine

source: artist: unknown


I’m honored for my work to have been published in the May Issue of Spiritual Uprising Magazine.

Check it out at the Up Ministries website. There are many other wonderful articles and topics for prayer and meditation.

You can read the issue for free, or choose to contribute a $3.00 donation to support the wonderful things they are starting there.

A taste from my article on my FAVORITE rosary mystery:

The mutual confiding between these two women of the mystery of new life hidden within them profoundly illustrates theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar’s description of the proper human disposition toward truth. Balthsar talks about how truth is very much expressed in relationship: it requires “unveiling” and “receptivity” (cf. Balthasar Theo-Logic). Mary certainly unveils her special relationship with God to Elizabeth, as being “the mother of the Lord”—a truth that perhaps has not yet been revealed even to her betrothed Joseph. And Elizabeth is actually able to intuit this as soon as Mary greets her at the door!   (Shea, “The Visitation: A Reflection” Spiritual Uprising Magazine May 2014)

For more information on the Spiritual Uprising publication and Up Ministries, check out the website:

Good Friday


Psalm 22

Here we are faced with a bottomless mystery[…] at this precise point the mystery of the divine Trinity is fully proclaimed. The distance is so great—for in God everything is infinitethat there is room in it for all the alienation and sin of the world; the Son can draw all this into his relationship with the Father […]

Jesus, the Crucified, endures our inner darkness and estrangement from God, and he does so in our place. It is all the more painful for him, the less he has merited it. As we have already said, there is nothing familiar about it to him: it is utterly alien and full of horror. Indeed, he suffers more deeply than an ordinary man is capable of suffering, even were he condemned and rejected by God, because only the incarnate Son knows who the Father really is and what it means to be deprived of him, to have lost him (to all appearances) forever. It is meaningless to call this suffering “hell”, for there is no hatred of God in Jesus, only a pain that is deeper and more timeless than the ordinary man could endure either in his lifetime or after his death. (Hans Urs von Balthasar, “The Scapegoat and the Trinity“)

Forgiving the Unforgivable

I am sure you have seen the recent interview with Adam Lanza’s father in the New Yorker, or at least summaries of it from other news sources.

Adam Lanza is the young man responsible for the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. He killed six workers and twenty little children. He had already killed his mother and later, he committed suicide.

Many sources are saying that Peter Lanza, Adam’s father, says that he wishes his son had never been born.

I can’t even imagine the amount of pain that would cause a parent to say such words about his own child.

Some people are very angry with the father for saying this: “If he turned out this way, it’s probably your fault! You’re the parent!” Others, however, seem gratified: “Even his own father admits how horrible he was.”

It’s a statement that reaches into the heart of existence and of sin. I do not know if human beings ever have the right to say it.

But I guess the first thing that jumped to my mind when I read Peter Lanza’s words were the words of Jesus Christ just before he was betrayed by his friend Judas:

The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had never been born. (cf. Mark 14:21 and Matthew 26:24, emphasis added)

Those words always make me shudder.

It’s hard to imagine Our Lord, the one who made us, saying that about anyone. But He does. He did. It has always bothered me.

Similar phrases come to mind: “Well, you’re God! You created him! You knew this was going to happen!” And on the other hand: “But he is your creation. How can you regret someone you yourself made?”

Jesus forgives those who are killing him on the cross (Luke 23:34) and when he confronts Judas in the garden, he calls him “friend” (Matthew 26:50). I am sure he did not use this term sarcastically–he always spoke the truth. Judas was his friend.

Despite everything, Jesus was reminding Judas of their true relationship and Judas’ true identity. The Gospel of Luke adds that Jesus also reminds Judas of his freedom–that he is choosing to perform an action: “Do you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” (Luke 22:48)

Likewise, when Jesus says it would be better “for that man”–for Judas–if he had never been born, this must also be true. Judas’ crime is so terrible that–for Judas, from his perspective–it would have been better never to have lived at all. This choice has made his life such a privation–has emptied his life of so much (all?) of its goodness–that a lack of living would have been better. Death would be better.

Perhaps that is true of Adam Lanza as well.

Jesus does not say it would be better for Judas never to have been created, or that He (as God) regretted creating him.

But there is a terrible truth in His words. There are things worse than death. Apparently betrayal of this magnitude is one of them.

Or killing children–which seems to me a similar kind of betrayal. The betrayal of innocent human persons. For Christ was the most innocent of all.

But I do not think Peter Lanza has the last word concerning his son. I think, ultimately, the last word resides with the victims and their parents–many of whom have actually forgiven Adam Lanza.

The thing about forgiveness is that it is the most radical kind of love. Love says, “It is good that you exist.” Forgiveness says, “Despite what you have done, it is still good that you exist.

Forgiveness locates a person’s identity not even in his chosen sins, but rather in his status as a child of God.

Which is why, with Hans Urs von Balthasar, we are not only permitted to hope but indeed ought to hope “that all men be saved.”

Stuff You Should Read

I have been meaning for a while to write about the Common Core, since it has been causing such an uproar in certain Catholic circles. Yet I do not think I have researched it sufficiently to say anything extensive about it yet. I know the Common Core standards for high school English (since I’ve had to try to implement them for two years), and I have spoken to “higher ups” in the ACE program at Notre Dame for their opinions on the matter–which so far seem strangely genial and un-curious.

Here are two articles that present pretty different views. To give you an idea, I am actually much more inclined to agree with Rocha, but I’ll let you decide:

1. “Why I’m Not Too Worked Up About Common Core” – Sam Rocha

2. “Common Core’s Substandard Writing Standards” – Anthony Esolen

Note: Stay tuned for an upcoming post on why I think Esolen is very wrong about his theory of teaching writing–at least at the secondary level. His claims might work better for the more sophisticated college student who already knows how to write, but from my own experience, as much as I appreciate his ideals, I think his comments are irrelevant for the high school English teacher.

Students - Death_to_high_school_English

I just discovered a new blog (new in the sense that it is “new” to me), and I am quickly becoming a big fan: Artur Rosman’s Cosmos in the Lost. Literature, philosophy, theology – you name it – all of my favorite things seem to be here.

He has two particularly helpful posts for my English major friends out there about contemporary writers who actually take religion seriously and who aren’t suffocated by “nihilism,” which according to O’Connor is the very “air we breathe” these days:

3. Fresh Caught Fish: Part I

Note: The best part about this list is that Rosman actually gives you substantial pieces of his favorite poems by these poets, so that you can get a feel for them. I am already adding names to my Christmas list.

A taste:

Full religion is the large poem in loving repetition;

like any poem, it must be inexhaustible and complete

with turns where we ask Now why did the poet do that?

(Les Murray)

4. Fresh Caught Fish: Part II

Note: For me, more of these are familiar names, but I am still looking forward to exploring new landscapes.

And, thanks to Rosman, a beautiful Advent reflection by my favorite theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar:

5. “Into the Dark with God” – Hans Urs von Balthasar

A taste:

Because the Lord, the High God, has taken the same path as they have: he has left his glory behind him and gone into the dark world, into the child’s apparent insignificance, into the unfreedom of human restrictions and bonds, into the poverty of the crib. This is the Word in action, and as yet the shepherds do not know, no one knows, how far down into the darkness this Word-in-action will lead. At all events it will descend much deeper than anyone else into what is worldly, apparently insignificant and profane; into what is bound, poor and powerless; so much so that we shall not be able to follow the last stage of his path. A heavy stone will block the way, preventing the others from approaching, while, in utter night, in ultimate loneliness and forsakenness, he descends to his dead human brothers. (Balthasar)

Lastly, because this Advent has been so dark — with the shootings at nearby Arapahoe High School, a major accident on LA 1 which I took every day for the past two years to drive to my old school, the anniversary of Sandy Hook, the suffering of my friends who are grieving the untimely loss of loved ones so close to Christmas… need I say more? Because it has been so dark:

6. Presence as Absence – by Marc at “Bad Catholic”

Especially this: “We feel the missing person like an atmosphere, not gone so much as everywhere, the whole world crowded as a Parisian metro with their nearness.”