Archive for October, 2012

Franciscan Reflection and Prayers for After the Storm

Posted in Franciscan Spirituality, Uncategorized with tags , , , on October 31, 2012 by Daniel P. Horan, OFM

The following was distributed to the Franciscan family by Fr. David Convertino, OFM, the executive director of the Holy Name Province office of development. 

We often say the prayer: God is our refuge and strength, always present in times of trouble and distress.

As we watch and witness the pain and loss of so many people with the utter devastation and destruction of our cities, towns and harbors by Hurricane Sandy, it may be difficult to really believe in that prayer even as we say it. In any natural tragedy, we can be quick to blame this as an act of God. I believe it is not an act of God, but rather an act of nature. The act of God is what happens afterward, when women and men come together to rescue, save, feed and comfort those who are suffering because of this terrible storm.

As part of the “act of God” taking place all over the East Coast and our entire country, we can join together and pray for the survivors and for those who died in the wake of this hurricane. As Franciscans, we not stand in awe of creation for its beauty, but also know the fear of its power and destruction.

Please join us, the Friars and our Franciscan Family around the country, in prayer for all those who are suffering in so many ways because of this storm.

I offer you some suggested prayers here, also knowing full well that prayers from the heart often feel more fully, the pain of those in need.

Thank you, as always, for your support of the Friars and of our work.
May the Lord bless and ease the pain of our suffering sisters and brothers in this time of great tragedy,

Fr. David Convertino, OFM
Executive Director – Office of Development
Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province


Living God, our refuge and strength, even the wind and sea obey your voice.
Put the wind back in its place, and say to the sea: Peace! Be still!
Fill us with great faith, and save us from the surging waters their destruction
so that we may tell the good news of your saving love.
We ask this through Jesus Christ, our hope and our salvation. Amen.


Loving and Compassionate God, you are our comfort
and strength in times of sudden disaster, crisis, or chaos.
Surround us now, O Lord, with your grace and peace
through storm or winds, fires or floods.
By your Spirit, lift up those who have fallen,
sustain those who work to rescue or rebuild,
and fill us with the hope of your new creation;
through Christ, our rock and redeemer. Amen.

A Prayer for Hurricane Season

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on October 30, 2012 by Daniel P. Horan, OFM

O God, Master of this passing world, hear the humble voices of your children.  The Sea of Galilee obeyed your order and returned to its former quietude; you are still the Master of land and sea.  We live in the shadow of a danger over which we have no control.  The Gulf, like a provoked and angry giant, can awake from its seeming lethargy, overstep its conventional boundaries, invade our land and spread chaos and disaster.  During this hurricane season, we turn to You, O loving God.  Spare us from past tragedies whose memories are still so vivid and whose wounds seem to refuse to heal with the passing of time.  O Virgin, Star of the Sea, Our Beloved Mother, we ask you to plead with your Son in our behalf, so that spared from the calamities common to this area and animated with a true spirit of gratitude, we will walk in the footsteps of your Divine Son to reach the heavenly Jerusalem where a storm-less eternity awaits us. Amen.

This prayer comes from, originally dedicated to the victims of Hurricane Audrey in 1957.

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Dating God Podcast #19 — Author Chris Haw

Posted in Dating God Podcast with tags , , , on October 26, 2012 by Daniel P. Horan, OFM

This episode of the Dating God Podcast features author Chris Haw, who talks about his new book From Willow Creek to Sacred Heart: Rekindling my Love for Catholicism (Ave Maria Press, 2012). Chris, who identifies himself as a husband, father, carpenter, potter, and theologian, is also the founder of Camden House, an intentional community in Camden, NJ. From Willow Creek to Sacred Heart is both an engaging popular book that traces the milestones of Chris’s own experience of “returning” to the Catholic Church through his experiences of social justice, solidarity, prayer, and liturgy. Co-author with Shane Claiborne of the best-selling book Jesus for President, Chris has an excellent writing style that is sure to keep each reader engaged, while at the same time presenting some rather substantial theologically grounded insights and considerations.

Here’s what my endorsement blurb says in the book, to give you a feel for what I think of this excellent book:

In an accessible and intelligent way, Chris Haw presents us with the colorful fabric of his faith journey woven together with rich resources, inviting readers on a theological and spiritual adventure of action and contemplation. This book is perfect for those struggling to understand how they fit into the Church and world today, especially those young adults seeking to make sense of their faith in challenging times. — Daniel P. Horan, OFM, author of Dating God: Live and Love in the Way of St. Francis

Listen to the podcast online (streaming)

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes (iTunes website)

Upcoming Talk in Boston

Posted in Franciscan Spirituality, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 24, 2012 by Daniel P. Horan, OFM

The Assumptionist Center, a community run by the Augustinians of the Assumption, hosts a monthly community event called Conversations at the Center that features a speaker who discusses some aspect of his or her work or ministry and then leads an informal discussion about that topic. I have the joy of being the speaker on Sunday November 4th. Asked to talk about Franciscan spirituality, the topic about which I’ll speaking is: “The Basics of Franciscan Spirituality: Prayer as Relationship.” Here is the description as advertised:

Francis of Assisi remains one of the most popular saints in all of Christian history, drawing admiration and providing inspiration for millions of Christians and non-Christians alike for more-than eight-hundred years. While most people are somewhat familiar with certain aspects of St. Francis’s history, experiences, and even writings, few are well-versed in what is generally called “Franciscan Spirituality.” Beginning with the life and writings of the poverello (“little poor man” from Assisi), the tradition of spirituality in the Franciscan family has grown and expanded over hundreds of years. What are some of the ways in which the insights, model, and tradition of the Saint from Assisi carry onward in those who would come after Francis in the following centuries? How might we benefit from this unique Franciscan Spirituality in our own lives of prayer, study, and ministry? This Conversation at the Center will focus on just a few elements of the rich tradition of Franciscan Spirituality for reflection and discussion, offering several basics that center on the Franciscan notion of prayer as relationship.

For more information, you can download this PDF information sheet. Hope to see you there!

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The Ministry of Relationship According to St. Francis

Posted in Francis of Assisi and the Future of Faith, Franciscan Spirituality, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 23, 2012 by Daniel P. Horan, OFM

Francis’s way of being-in-the-world centered on following the example of Jesus Christ. Franciscan scholar Michael Blastic insightfully connects the humility of God that Francis recognized in the Incarnation and sought to emulate with God’s outward movement toward humanity. Once rooted in humility, God Incarnate – Jesus Christ – entered into relationships with the people around him.  All four Gospels recount the multitude of encounters Jesus had with many: the marginalized, outcast, wealthy, powerful, average, violent, peaceful, and so on.  Because he lived in such a perfect state of humble existence among his sisters and brothers, Jesus was able to meet those he encountered as they were and treat them with the inherent dignity rightly deserved by virtue of their humanity.  For Francis, this became a major component of his way of life and remains a characteristic of Franciscan ministry today.

While most of the preserved writings of Francis are letters, prayers, admonitions or ways of life addressed to large audiences, we have one letter that was written to a particular minister.  The identity of this brother remains anonymous, which at first causes frustration in an age full of people impatient for instant gratification; however, the anonymity of the recipient allows us to stand in his place as the receiver of wisdom from Francis concerning ministry.  The letter provides a touching look into the heart of Francis.  Francis is concerned about the attitude and disposition of his brother friar and instructs him:

I wish to know in this way if you love the Lord and me, His servant and yours: that there is not any brother in the world who has sinned – however much he could have sinned – who, after he has looked into your eyes, would ever depart without your mercy, if he is looking for mercy.

Mercy trumps retributive justice.  Relationship remains the primary hermeneutic for interpreting every encounter with another.  While in retrospect this sort of observation may at first appear obvious, it is only because our familiarity – if only subtly and indirectly – with Franciscan ministry informs our way of seeing.  However, this had not always been the case.  Franciscan historian Joseph Chinnici describes the early Franciscan movement as a radically new form of “penitential humanism.” Chinnici understands this term as the unifying tendency of the Franciscan movement to connect people amid “social discord and violence.”  This approach to ministry is one that places relationship and community above one’s personal faith journey and conversion.  In fact, one’s own conversion, if indicative of a Franciscan hue, should lead toward humanity and away from only one’s self. It is for precisely this reason that Francis insisted that the friars were to remain mendicants and not monks, to live as if the whole world were a cloister and not be limited to the four walls of private religious life.

A Franciscan approach to ministry is not simply a praxis of good method and skillful implementation of model practices; rather it is an ethical project that seeks to unite those who are separated by the violence of social, political, and ecclesial dissent. To further stress the importance of relationship as the operative approach to ministry, Francis often used familial terms in his writing.  In his Earlier Rule, Francis says, “Let each one love and care for his brother as a mother loves and cares for her son.” The familial understanding of relationship in the spirituality of Francis even extended beyond human relationships to include all of God’s creation as found in his most famous work, The Canticle of the Creatures, where he addresses all elements as brother or sister.  In an age of heightened ecological awareness the notion of relationship with the earth and the rest of creation can positively influence our approach to ministry.   We are called to minister to all with a deepened sense of our interdependence and relatedness as children of God and brothers and sisters of all God’s creation.

This is an excerpt from the chapter titled, “A Franciscan Way of Ministry,” in my new book Francis of Assisi and the Future of Faith: Exploring Franciscan Spirituality and Theology in the Modern World (Tau Publishing, 2012). To read more, check out the book in Paperback and for the Amazon Kindle. 

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‘Catholic’ Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Does

Posted in Huffington Post, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on October 21, 2012 by Daniel P. Horan, OFM

The following article first appeared in The Huffington Post on Saturday, October 20, 2012.

If you were to ask a stranger on the street or the co-worker at the water cooler what first comes to mind when they hear the word Catholic, chances are good that you might get a response like “the Vatican,” “the Pope” or “the Mass.” If you were to press further, you might even get a response that comes from the colloquial use of the term according to the English dictionary: a synonym for “universal.” On the surface, both answers would be generally correct.

However, the origin of the word and its usage in Christianity for millennia suggests something quite different from what we might initially think. And what it really means has profound implications for what it means to be a Christian in the world and how we should conceive of being “church.”

In 1990 the now-late Jesuit scholar of English literature and philosophy, Walter Ong, S.J., wrote an essay for America magazine that responded to the perennial question for educators in Catholic institutions of higher education: How does such a school incorporate this nebulous concept “catholic identity” into its mission in a tangible way?

Ong’s contribution was to look at the meaning of the word catholic itself to get a better handle on the task at hand. What he revealed bears broader ramifications than simply helping Catholic colleges and universities develop their mission.

His insight should radically challenge our understanding of what it means to be a Christian (especially aCatholic Christian) in the world.

The centerpiece of his research is the etymology or origin of the word “catholic.” While we do commonly use it to mean “universal,” Ong points out that the Latin or Roman Church (as distinct from the Orthodox or Eastern Church) had a word for universal in Latin — universalis. Ong asked:

If “universal” is the adequate meaning of “catholic,” why did the Latin church, which in its vernacular language had the word universalis, not use this word but rather borrowed from Greek the term katholikos instead, speaking of the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic church (to put it into English) instead of the “one, holy, universal and apostolic church”?

Great question!

Ong explains that it has a theological and practical significance. The origin of “universal” in Latin likely comes from the two root-words unum (meaning “one”) and vertere (meaning “turn”). The image it evokes is something like an architect’s compass, which is used to make a circle around “one” central point.

Universal does bear a certain sense of inclusivity, for it gathers everything and everyone that is within the boundary of that line drawn around the circle. Yet, by virtue of the boundary or circle, it necessarily impliesexclusion for whatever and whoever falls outside of the “universal” line.

By contrast, katholikos comes from two Greek words: kata or kath (meaning “through” or “throughout”) and holos (meaning “whole”). This notion of “throughout-the-whole” carries no notion of boundary or lines drawn that demarcate those who are “in” and those who are “out.”

The point, Ong suggests, is that the life, ministry and preaching of Jesus of Nazareth also supports this notion of katholikos — “Catholic” — rather than a more exclusive notion of the church as “universal.” He points to Jesus’s very short parable of “the yeast” found in Matthew 13:33 (and Luke 13:21), in which Jesus likens the Kingdom or Reign of God to a woman who makes bread.

The Kingdom of God is said to be like the yeast that is added to flour and is found “throughout-the-whole” of the dough, building it up, not destroying or separating the flour, but becoming one-with, part-of, and mutually benefiting from and contributing to the life of bread.

Ong is quick to point out how non-colonial yeast is. In its own organic way, it inculturates and accepts the ingredients in which it finds itself. One can even take starter dough from one type of bread and add it to an entirely different type of flour and the yeast appropriates the form of its surrounding, and does not turn the new ingredients into a replica of itself.

Yeast, in its true catholicity and insofar as yeast can in its own way, does not seek conformity in this regard, but works with and celebrates the diversity of flour and ingredients it encounters.

It doesn’t take much imagination to see how these two conceptualizations of “catholic” can inform and shape our understanding of what it means to be a Christian in the world.

The “universal” approach, one that draws lines and is inclusive only of those within a certain proximity to the “one point” around which the boundary is marked, is represented by those who are constantly concerned about who is in and who is out. Those who talk about the church as leaner, smaller, more “orthodox” are more likely to see boundaries between “the church” and “the world” as a good thing.

On the other hand, the “catholic” approach, one that recognizes the call for the enacting of the Reign of God “throughout-the-whole” of the world, sees the church as inclusive because it is to be found without separation from, but instead exists as part of the world and society. Those who talk about the church as in the world and not apart from it, follow in the pathway of the Second Vatican Council’s document Gaudium et Spes, “The Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the World.”

As we begin celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, this need to remember what the relationship of the church to the world is becomes especially important. There remains too much discriminatory and exclusive talk about the church in this “universal” key. Some church leaders have made it quite clear that they see “the world” (as if it were something apart from the church and the People of God that constitute the church) as a threat to Christianity. The implication is that we must re-inscribe the boundaries, literally encircle ourselves around a singular point, and exclude those who do not happen to fall, as it were, “in line.”

In an odd linguistic turn, perhaps what’s needed more than ever is for Christians of all sorts, but especially Roman Catholics, to become more catholic.

We need to see ourselves and understand our Church (which is the Body of Christ) as living and moving “throughout-the-whole,” as mutually building each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11), and as welcoming all with open arms as Jesus did.

[Daniel P. Horan, OFM’s Huffington Post contributor page]

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Academic Papers, Public Lecture: Busy Weekend in the NYC Metro Area

Posted in Dating God Book, Francis of Assisi and the Future of Faith with tags , , , , , , on October 19, 2012 by Daniel P. Horan, OFM

For those who happen to be in the greater New York City metro area and Northern New Jersey, consider coming to some of the exciting things happening this weekend! On Saturday the Fordham University Theology Graduate Student Association is hosting a conference titled: “Sacred Topographies; or, Parks and Revelation” (full schedule below) at which I and two of my Boston College colleagues will present papers. The conference is being held at the Lincoln Center campus of Fordham (details here) and is open to the public, so if you’re interested in theology and happen to be in or around Manhattan, consider stopping in for all or part of it.

Also, on Sunday, I will be at St. Mary’s Church in Pompton Lakes, NJ, as part of their ongoing month-long celebration of Francis of Assisi. I will be celebrating and preaching at the 12 noon mass after which there is a public talk about my book Dating God: Live and Love in the Way of St. FrancisThere will also be books for sale (at a price cheaper than Amazon!), both Dating God and my latest book, Francis of Assisi and the Future of Faith: Exploring Franciscan Spirituality and Theology in the Modern World. I will be signing copies for those who are interested.

While this weekend is sure to be a busy I hope to see many of you around!  And, as always, you can see my full schedule of speaking events at:

Schedule of Fordham Conference


9:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
2012 Fordham Graduate Theology Conference
Fordham University, Lincoln Center campus

PANEL 1: Identity, Topography, and Local Particularity (9:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.)

1.”The Paradigm of Ghurbah – Shifting Topographies within the Turkish Muslim Immigrant Community in Germany”
Zeyneb Sayilgan, Georgetown University

2.”Ephesus as Contested Space: Mapping Religious, Economic, and Spatial Movement in Acts 19″
Christy Cobb, Drew University

3.”Sacred Rusticity: An Overture in Theology and Rural Topography”
Scott McDaniel, Dayton University

PANEL 2: Liturgical Space and the Topographies of Worship (11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.)

1.”Constructing the Kingdom: The Aesthetic Dimensions of Locating the Liturgy”
Brendan McInerny, Fordham University

2.”Filiation and Nostalgia at the Mosque of Cordoba”
Basit Iqbal, University of Toronto

3.”‘I am not leaving’: Our Lady, Sacred Space, and Catholic Visionary Culture”
Jill Krebs, Drew University

LUNCH BREAK 12:30 P.M. – 2:00 P.M

PANEL 3: Ruptured and Shifting Topographies (2:10 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.)

1.”Terror, Territorialism and the Cries of the Canaanite Victims: Towards a Postidealist Understanding of the Exodus Paradigm”
Eduardo Gonzalez, Boston College

2.”Throwing off the Cloak of Urban Fabric: A Spatial Analysis of Genesis 4:1-17″
Amy Beth W. Jones, Drew University

PANEL 4: Transgressed/Transgressive Topographies (3:30 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.)

1.”No Place for Damaged Bodies: Imagining the Kingdom of Heaven in the 4th and 5th Centuries”
Lindsey Mercer, Fordham University

2.”Be-ing on the Boundary: Re(Dis)-covering the Boundary Metaphor in Mary Daly’s Early Feminist Theological Anthropology”
Jessica Coblentz, Boston College

3.”Planetarity, Kinship and Ktiseology: Toward a Constructive and Postcolonial Franciscan Theology of Creation”
Daniel P. Horan OFM, Boston College

KEYNOTE ADDRESS (5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.)

Elizabeth Castelli, Professor and Chair of Religion at Barnard College

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