Jeff Geerling's blog

This Advent: Simplify

Every few years, I spend some time trying to trim any excess off my online presence (sites and social media profiles). For some time, that resulted in consolidation of many websites into one. Lately, as I've built up a larger network of sites and services, I've simply tried to ensure that all are manageable and don't require too much of my time to be effective.

My bandwidth for managing multiple sites and accounts has been reduced this year as I've started a new 'in-the-office' job, and also have a beautiful baby (almost 1 year old!) to care for.

Thus, I'm trying to whittle things down again during this Advent; what better time than the new liturgical year to refocus my online presence and work on making it align with my calling in life—to be a good husband and father, and to give honor to God in all things.

I'm also going to be working on making sure that the sites and profiles I do maintain are as simple and efficient as they can be, so people visiting and following will have the best experience possible, and get right to what they'd like to see. On this site, I've removed the 'About' block that has been present in the sidebar for years (I think since 2004!), so now there are only a couple contextual things over on the right like search and an RSS link.

Advent is a great time for you, too, to see what distractions you can cut out of your life, your routine, and your online persona. If you feel called to do so, I encourage you to spend the next 24 days praying and working on simplifying your life! Mary and Joseph surely cut out a lot of distractions when they went on their journey to Bethlehem, and brought Jesus into the world with only what they could carry on a donkey!

Evangelii Gaudium - Joy of the Gospel

Pope Francis released his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (Joy of the Gospel), today.

I'm having a quick read through it, but as with all other Papal writings, I'm pretty sure it requires a deeper reading sometime when I have a quiet period of time to reflect on it.

There's already some chatter about certain statements the Pope makes in this Exhortation, and many others can summarize and scrutinize much better than I.

In other news, I found out about this release pretty soon after it was published, since I've been beta-testing the Catholic News Live mobile app for iOS 7... it will be released shortly! (More to come...).

Souls and Goals Clergy vs. Seminarian Soccer Match - November 7

[Update: There is now a simple website where the latest information can be found: Souls and Goals.org.]

On November 7, 2013, there will be a soccer match between 'clergy and company' (archdiocesan priests, a bishop, and some of their friends) and the Kenrick-Glennon Seminary Lions (the seminary's soccer team) at St. Dominic High School.

The match is free and open to all the faithful in the Archdiocese, and will be a friendly match with concessions, some special visitors, and prayers for vocations.

KGS Priests Souls and Goals soccer match

Details:

  • What: Souls and Goals Soccer Cup 2013
  • When: Thursday, November 7, 7:00 p.m.
  • Where: St. Dominic High School (map).
  • Who: Priests, a bishop, seminarians, Carmelite sisters (they'll be leading prayer at 6:15 p.m.), and other special guests.

Interesting St. Louis History - How the River Des Peres became a Sewer

Through Reddit, I found an interesting post from the Preservation Research Office website about the history of the River Des Peres: The Harnessed Channel: How the River Des Peres Became a Sewer.

River Des Peres under construction

Along the southwest edge of the city of St. Louis, Missouri runs a six-mile curve of what appears to be a river with paved banks. This river is usually dry and rarely filled to even half its capacity. Covered in rip-rap and white stones along this six miles, the banks form a visual boundary of the city limits — although the actual city line is several hundred yards west. Still, the moat-like river creates an effective border between the middle-class parts of the county and city that occupy either side of it. Yet this river actually unites them, because it carries away all of their wasted water and, deep below its channel, their sewage. The river is the River Des Peres, a harnessed channel that was transformed from a natural waterway into a massive civil engineering project in the early twentieth century.

I always knew the 'river' wasn't much of a natural resource anymore—most of the visible length of it is paved in concrete and full of riprap—but I didn't know there's a huge sewer canal under the visible channel! Definitely worth a read, especially if you live near this interesting man-made St. Louis sewage backbone.

Pope Francis is not the anti-Benedict

It seems the media has taken every opportunity to spin Pope Francis' words as being veiled criticisms of his predecessor's own words, especially when it comes to liturgical and theological topics. While it's great seeing the media show meager support at times, rather than destructive criticism for a Pope at every turn, it's misguided and not really that helpful.

All the press is saying is that what makes Catholicism Catholic (liturgy, ritual, priesthood, catechesis, etc.) is irrelevant, and we should worry more about the poor and such instead—and they're taking many translated quotes from Pope Francis out of context to support their theories. This horse has been beaten to death by many well-intentioned cafeteria Catholics throughout my lifetime, and I'm quite sick of it.

James over at the Forum has written about this a few times, and his most recent post, "Criticism" of Benedict in Rio? is spot-on:

Ever since Francis was elected, the media has been relentlessly billing him as the anti-Benedict. [...]

I can't agree that a problem dogging the Catholic Church over the past forty years has been "intellectualism" or "rigid formulas". If anything, we've traded in the intellect for the purely sentimental, even saccharine. For two generations and counting, Catholics have been reared in an anti-intellectual ethos, from schools to liturgy. Have you been to a typical Catholic parish recently? It's almost all touchy-feely: name tags, silly songs, hand-holding, Father Personality and his cringeworthy jokes, backslapping, high-fives, no substance, etc. It never ends. And having attended Catholics schools for most of my youth, I can't say that "intellectualism" was a cause for many of my peers leaving the Church (which many of them did). We simply weren't taught the essentials of the faith. Period.

Go read the full post—every word rings true for faithful Catholics in my generation. From what I've seen, Catholic parishes in the U.S. have been anything but intellectual, clerical, etc. If anything, we need to go back to our liturgical and catechetical roots to find our faith and a true relationship with Jesus before we can presume to be of any assistance to the poor or others in need!

Steubenville 2013 - Chosen

This weekend, I'm down in Springfield, MO, photographing the Steubenville St. Louis Mid-America youth conference (which is on its second weekend—more than 6,000 teens participate in this event!).

Steubenville 2013 - Chosen Logo

I'll be posting my pictures in near-real-time to Flickr (on stlyouth's photostream — here's a link to all the pictures from the weekend), and I'll hopefully have time to do a writeup on the gear I'm using—two Nikon bodies (including a rented D7100!), two Eye-Fi cards, and a 4G hotspot.

Here are two of my favorite shots from the tonight (Eucharistic Adoration is always a highlight):

DSC_4170

DSC_4540.JPG

You can follow along the entire weekend on the OYM's Live Blog, or via any of the OYM's various social media accounts (listed in the right column of the live blog). Jennifer Brinker, of the St. Louis Review, has already written a story about the use of social media during the conference which is worth a read. She and photographer Sid Hastings will be working some stories throughout the weekend (it's always fun to shoot alongside a more seasoned photographer!).

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