This reflection is now available in Daniel P. Horan, OFM’s book Franciscan Spirituality for the 21st Century: Selected Reflections from the Dating God Blog and Other Essays, Volume One (Koinonia Press, 2013).



  1. Great post, Dano. Certainly topical, as this is something K and I havce been struggling with more recently. Our issue more recently has been the question of where it all ends. When does enough become enough? In baptism, we are imparting our faith upon our child, and accepting Christ on his behalf. We both maintain a strong faith, but the idea of accepting so many of the tenants of the Catholic church on Henry’s behalf seems like a contradiction. When the priest asks Katherine and I at the baptism if we will raise Henry according to the tenants of the Catholic church, won’t we be lying if we say yes? Matthew 25 has always been a bedrock of our faith, and a map on how we raise the dudes. But so many other facets of the Catholicism seem to fly in the face of that. Can you seen the moral dilemma?

    Certainly the tactics used by the folks you mentioned above are a little much. No one can tell you how to strengthen your relationship with God. But the dilemma is most certainly real.

  2. I’m no fan of the type of tactics being used by FFRF, but it does occur to me that such dedicated antagonism likely arises at least in part from people who have felt mistreated & marginalized by church institutions as well as by individual Christians. It’s all so very sad, made even more so by the myopia of FFRF in not seeing any of the just & good actions of those of us who seek to follow the way of Christ.

  3. While I too do not support the open frontal as presented by the FFRF group, even Matthew 25 purports the ideal of being “good and faithful servants” and that whole “sheep, goat, and grinding of teeth” thing, not-to-mention being ready for the master, in two parables. And, even Christ Himself chastised (compassionately) the woman at the well. So, the question therefore is what is “good and faithful servant”, and what particular are “just & good actions” does the FFRF not see?

    Perhaps, and not to speak for them with authority, they are “throwing out the baby with the bath water”. I am assuming that good actions about one refers are helping the poor, forgotten, and imprisoned, the widows and orphans, and even the end of capital punishment, if this is the case, then I would make the assumption, they do know about these goods. Now, if one is referring to the promotion of same-sex “marriage” (vice a civil union), or adoption by same-sex couples, or the right to kill the unborn, or the infringement of the state upon and Catholic Institution of higher learning or medical institutions to provide contraceptives and perform abortions, or the ordination of woman (which is a topic separate unto itself), then respectully (IMHO) their position and assessment is dead-on correct and accurate.

    Personally, I deeply appreciate the teachings of John Paul II, but understand the position of the traditional SSPX or FSSP types. Therefore, the unChristian behavior on both sides is certainly not a sterling example of charity. And, this perceived conflict by those outside the Holy Mother Church, makes her and the message of Christ even more understood and less inviting.

    I will say the Deacon Dan has summed up the real message perfectly in the last lines: “May we live as people of hope, preaching with our actions and words the Good News of Jesus Christ, not the fear the world already gives.” AMEN!

  4. Matthew 25 is the key to salvation, but it doesn’t exist in isolation. This is an expression of your love for God. You become his hands and feet helping those in need…his human body on earth. Women religious are not social workers. Their salvation doesn’t depend on helping the poor and the marginalized alone. It depends on their union with Christ and his Church. It matters what they believe. Their charitable work must flow from their union with Christ, primarily from the Eucharist and participation at Mass. If they reject these things, the whole thing is flawed.

    In the end, the hallmark of Saints is not the work they’ve done. It’s their love for God. And this is most visibly demonstrated in their humility and obedience. When our women religious vehemently reject the most sacred teachings of the Church, they weaken the Body of Christ and their own efforts to expand the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. These efforts can’t be legitimately done outside of intimate union with the Magisterium and the hierarchy. But to invite them to leave is the wrong way to address it. To invite them closer into the fold is the way it should be done.

  5. Brother Dan. Firstly congratulations on your upcoming ordination to the priesthood. May you be blessed throughout your ministry.

    Secondly: I believe that in seeking to be a church FOR the poor, oppressed and marginalized we have adopted the systems of thinking that have diluted what it means to be the Catholic Church.

    Are we not called rather to be a Church OF the poor?

    And, are we not ALL poor in our fallen sinful nature.

    The Church rightly teaches a “preferential option” for the poor, but in pursuing that option we shouldn’t throw away millennia of tradition.

    The Church is under attack on all sides and we should not avoid the fight because we want to be seen to be on the side of the oppressed.

    We are not a Church of “either/or”, but of “both/and.” Dionne seems to want to fight the bishops in order to be on the side of the oppressed.

    I believe the Bishops are getting it right AND we need to be on the side of the oppressed, marginalized etc., and indeed be a Church OF the poor. In that way we are not just social workers but paradigm-shifters.

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