Tag Archives: editorial

The End of Beginnings: The New Church Life

Tim O'MalleyWhen I first purchased my home, I learned very quickly about how to care for the rose bushes on the side of our house. In order to let the flowers blossom to their full potential, it was necessary to prune them with some degree of regularity (a lesson I learned the hard way after the first summer).

In an analogous manner, the Center for Liturgy has been responsible for two “growing” publications in the Institute for Church Life, both of which require a bit of pruning. We first started up a blog connecting the celebration of the liturgy to the spiritual life. Quickly, we discovered that Oblation reached an audience that we didn’t know was interested in liturgical prayer: young adults. We grew so large, that we began to publish not simply once or twice a week but daily. In the four years that the blog has been in existence, we have seen significant growth from 15% in year 1 to 40% over the last year. This blog has become a trusted voice in liturgical formation, especially among Millennials, throughout the United States. It has also become a space to feature the insights of the entire Institute for Church Life, in some sense, becoming a project that was much bigger than the Center for Liturgy.

At roughly the same time, we started up an academic publication for the Institute for Church Life, aptly entitled Church Life. This journal has been marked by its beauty, its serious study of the implications of evangelization in pastoral and social life, and for doing non-desk bound theology (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, no. 133). Our first issue, with minimal advertising and a somewhat difficult platform for reading, had viewership of 25,000 in the first year alone. We wanted more people to be able to read the pastoral theology of John Cavadini, Cyril O’Regan, Ann Astell, and more. But, the digital platform we used was too clunky, too hard to share.

Beginning last year, with the help of a new communications director, we concluded that it was time to do some pruning of these publications.  Beginning in February, we will be launching a new site (churchlife.nd.edu), which will include:

  1. Four major essays per month, dealing with theological, sociological and cultural themes related to the pastoral life of the Church. If you’re interested in submitting an essay, see our call for papers.
  2. In addition, we will have regular shorter articles that will respond to present events or pastoral needs in the Church today. These shorter pieces will include the voices of regular columnists, as well as occasional contributors from around the globe.
  3. The blog Oblation will cease to exist under that name (old articles will be migrated to the new site) but instead become Church Life’s official blog, still concerned with themes related to young adult spiritual life and often the liturgy. We’ll be publishing on Oblation through the beginning of February. When we transition to our new platform, we will re-direct readers to churchlife.nd.edu.
  4. Lastly, within the next year, we will be launching a series of podcasts and other forms of digital media dealing with preaching, catechesis, liturgy, and the spiritual life.

Through this four-fold approach, the Institute for Church Life will be at the forefront of the academic study of evangelization in the modern world (catechesis, liturgy, preaching, and social action), providing accessible pastoral resources for those in ministry, as well as engaging in the digital acropolis. We see ourselves as writing a new chapter in both the history of Notre Dame, as well as the American Church.

We hope you’ll come and join us.

For updates relative to progress around our journal, visit our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter.


Timothy P. O’Malley, PhD

Director, Notre Dame Center for Liturgy

Editor, Church Life




Three Things We’re Reading Today: Catholicism in the Media, Beauty in Love, Divine Love in Cosmology

Carolyn PirtleCarolyn Pirtle, M.M., M.S.M.
Assistant Director, Notre Dame Center for Liturgy

Contact Author


1) Last week, Elizabeth Dias at Time magazine wrote an article entitled “Sorry, But Media Coverage of Pope Francis is Papal Bull,” which deconstructs the recent media coverage of Pope Francis and his recent statements about the Big Bang Theory. It’s not often that you read a defense of the Catholic Church from a major news outlet (let alone one with such a pun-tastic title), but it’s interesting to see that someone is taking notice of the fact that the media often just gets it wrong when it comes to the Church.

Almost every news outlet, major and minor, has plastered Pope Francis’ name across the interwebs and proclaimed he has finally planted the Catholic Church in the evolution camp of the creation-evolution debate. The only problem? Almost every outlet has got the story wrong, proving once again that the mainstream media has nearly no understanding of the Church. And that madness shows no signs of stopping.

2) Samantha Schroeder’s piece “The Role of Beauty in Love” from Ethika Politika  offers a commentary on the “irreducibility and ineffability” of love in all its mystery, drawing from the writings of Catholic philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand, affirming that “the apprehension of beauty in love is a response to the entire person.”

When asked why we love, many lovers are left speechless, finding words inadequate for expressing such a profound emotion. In love, one does not respond to a particular stirring of a singular feature of the beloved—Cleopatra’s nose, Marie Antoinette’s breast—but a totality of the features of the other that transcends the visible and audible.

3) Finally, George Weigel’s piece “Exploded into Being by Divine Love” at First Things takes up the recent discussions surrounding Catholicism and the Big Bang as a catalyst in their own right, stating,

The new cosmology makes possible a new dialogue between physics and theology, or, more broadly, between science and religion.

The particular beauty of the final two paragraphs make the entire piece worth reading, especially for those interested in the possibility of fruitful intersections between religion and science, faith and reason.

Three Things We’re Reading Today: Humanities, Love, and Christian Music

TimOMalleyTimothy P. O’Malley, Ph.D.

Director, Notre Dame Center for Liturgy

Contact Author

1) A really interesting piece at First Things by Mark Shiffman, dealing with the fear that leads a number of students to avoid the humanities as a discipline:

This fear (which we prefer to cloak under the more respectable name of “anxiety”) is the real story behind the current steady decline in the humanities. According to Amazon, the most highlighted passage in all books read on Kindle—highlighted almost twice as often as any other passage—is from the second volume of The Hunger Games: “Because sometimes things happen to people and they’re not equipped to deal with them.” Students want continual reassurance that they’re equipping themselves. They clothe themselves in an armor of achievement that they hope will protect them against uncertainties—of the job market, of course, but also deeper uncertainties about their status, their identities, their self-worth. Disciplines that have (or appear to have) a technical character and a clear arc of accumulated knowledge and skills leading toward a foreseeable career goal reinforce the feeling that they are working steadily, assignment by assignment, toward gaining more control over an uncertain future.

One cannot help but wonder if there is a “liturgical” formation that comes about as we learn to ask those fundamental questions that place us face-to-face with the human condition. Interesting to consider.

2) A beautiful post on the inefficiency of Christian love by Jesuit, Keith Maczkiewicz at the Jesuit Post:

To choose efficiency is to brush aside suffering, to ignore friends in times of need, to prefer the familiar to the true. But to choose love–to listen to that other voice–is to choose an alternate route. Loving means waiting, sometimes for hours. To love is to waste time, to expect, even seek, delays in the work of establishing or maintaining relationship with another. Loving is terribly inefficient and always will be, and, I suppose, there’s no way around that.

3) A piece on contemporary Christian music at Second Nature written by T. David Gordon offers a rather constructive (and it seems deeply valid critique) of Contemporary Christian Music in worship. He offers 8 points, we give you one:

As with all novelties, once the novelty wears off, what is left often seems somewhat empty. In a culture that celebrates what is new (and commercial culture always does so in order to sell what is new), most people will pine for what is new. But what is new does not remain so forever; and once it is no longer novel, it must compete by the ordinary canons of musical and lyrical art, and very little CWM can do so (again, because its authors face a fifty-to-one ratio of competition from other generations). Even promoters of CWM prefer some of it to the rest of it; indicating that they, too, recognize aesthetic criteria beyond mere novelty. Even those who regard novelty as a virtue, in other words, do not regard it as the only virtue. And some, such as myself, regard novelty as a liturgical vice, not a virtue because of its tendency to dis-associate us from the rest of our common race, heritage, and liturgy.

He also offers a deconstruction of the term contemporary worship to begin with:

“Contemporary worship” to me is an oxymoron. Biblically, worship is what angels and morning stars did before creation; what Abraham, Moses and the Levites, and the many-tongued Jewish diaspora at Pentecost did. It is what the martyrs, now ascended, do, and what all believers since the apostles have done. More importantly, it is what we will do eternally; worship is essentially (not accidentally) eschatological. And nothing could celebrate the eschatological forever less than something that celebrates the contemporary now. So ultimately, I think the Apostles’ Creed will stick its camel’s nose into the liturgical tent, and assert again our celebration of the “holy catholic church, the communion of the saints.” The sooner the better.

Definitely worth the read.