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A Rock Critic Talks Faith View Comments
By James Breig

LIKE A DNA helix, music and faith have intertwined throughout the life of Rob Sheffield, a Catholic and rock critic for Rolling Stone magazine. He’s also the author of Love Is a Mix Tape and Talking to Girls About Duran Duran—books filled with his personal beliefs and his love for contemporary music.

“I’ve learned that my faith is always changing in ways I don’t have the power to predict,” he tells St. Anthony Messenger. “Questions that seem clear enough to me one year will seem incredibly troubling the next year. Music is like that, too. You decide one week you have a clear idea of what you like and what music you identify with. Then, the next week, some music sneaks through the walls you’ve built and reaches your heart.”

Sheffield, 45, was born into Catholicism. He grew up near Boston in the 1970s, which he describes as “an exciting time, when the adults around us were deeply inspired by leaders like Cardinal [Richard] Cushing of Boston and the late Pope John XXIII, and by the Second Vatican Council. There was this idea that Catholic spirituality was not something you let the experts take care of for you, and it wasn’t something you watched happen while the clergy did all the work.

“Instead,” he continues, “growing up Catholic meant taking your place as an adult in a collaborative, interpretive community. That was scary as well as exciting because it was a challenge. It meant we learned to ask ourselves tough adult questions about our faith and what it meant, and [we didn’t settle] for easy, dismissive answers.

“It meant shouldering the responsibility for making the Church happen,” says Sheffield. “It seemed obvious to all of us that we were growing up in the best possible time in history to be Catholic. There was an excitement in the adults around us, our parents, our CCD teachers, the nuns and the priests. There was a sense of the Church as a growing, vibrant, dynamic thing.”

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James Breig is a veteran writer for Catholic newspapers, magazines and books. He now authors a syndicated media column for dozens of Catholic papers.

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Robert Bellarmine: When Robert Bellarmine was ordained in 1570, the study of Church history and the fathers of the Church was in a sad state of neglect. A promising scholar from his youth in Tuscany, he devoted his energy to these two subjects, as well as to Scripture, in order to systematize Church doctrine against the attacks of the Protestant Reformers. He was the first Jesuit to become a professor at Louvain. 
<p>His most famous work is his three-volume <i>Disputations on the Controversies </i><em>of the Christian Faith</em>. Particularly noteworthy are the sections on the temporal power of the pope and the role of the laity. He incurred the anger of monarchists in England and France by showing the divine-right-of-kings theory untenable. He developed the theory of the indirect power of the pope in temporal affairs; although he was defending the pope against the Scottish philosopher Barclay, he also incurred the ire of Pope Sixtus V. </p><p>Bellarmine was made a cardinal by Pope Clement VIII on the grounds that "he had not his equal for learning." While he occupied apartments in the Vatican, Bellarmine relaxed none of his former austerities. He limited his household expenses to what was barely essential, eating only the food available to the poor. He was known to have ransomed a soldier who had deserted from the army and he used the hangings of his rooms to clothe poor people, remarking, "The walls won't catch cold." </p><p>Among many activities, he became theologian to Pope Clement VIII, preparing two catechisms which have had great influence in the Church. </p><p>The last major controversy of Bellarmine's life came in 1616 when he had to admonish his friend Galileo, whom he admired. Bellarmine delivered the admonition on behalf of the Holy Office, which had decided that the heliocentric theory of Copernicus (the sun as stationary) was contrary to Scripture. The admonition amounted to a caution against putting forward—other than as a hypothesis—theories not yet fully proved. This shows that saints are not infallible. </p><p>Bellarmine died on September 17, 1621. The process for his canonization was begun in 1627 but was delayed until 1930 for political reasons, stemming from his writings. In 1930, Pope Pius XI canonized him and the next year declared him a doctor of the Church.</p> American Catholic Blog The joy of the Lord is our strength. Therefore, each of us will accept a life of poverty in cheerful trust. We will minister to Christ in the distressing disguise of the poor with cheerful devotion. If our work is done with joy, we will have no reason to be unhappy.

 
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