Fr. Vin – As I See It

The Free-Rider Problem (A Personal Rant)

Have you ever shoveled-out a parking space in front of your house after a snowstorm and then had a stranger park in it?  This is a homey example of what economists call the “free rider problem.”  Whenever people use something they haven’t paid for (in money, time, effort, or the like), bad things happen.  For one thing, that resource is used up unfairly; people who do pay are deprived of their fair share.  For another, the existence of the resource itself is threatened (why shovel if someone else is going to use the space?) This happens all the time in parishes.  Let me give just two examples. Read more →

Loans from God?

Have you noticed how often the Scriptures use examples from business and commerce?  Today’s readings are an example of that.  Jesus picks up a story from the Hebrew Bible (which is today’s first reading) but shifts its focus just a bit.  Isaiah’s original story is about the people of his time who are ungrateful for God’s goodness to them.  Jesus adapts the story to make the same point about his contemporaries, but changes it by weaving in something his hearers would be familiar with: the common practice of having tenant farmers tend fields on the owner’s behalf.  It’s that wrinkle that we can usefully think about. Read more →

About Sponsors & Godparents – Confusion Reigns (but doesn’t have to)

You’ve heard of godparents.  You’ve heard of sponsors (another name for godparents, more usually used at Confirmation, so “sponsor” includes both sacraments and is commonly used officially by the church).  You may know that sponsors/godparents must be practicing Catholics in good standing who can give good example to the person they sponsor for a sacrament. Read more →

On the Ending of DACA – from the U.S. Bishops

When the administration announced through Attorney General Sessions that the DACA program was to be terminated it provoked a furious response from the U.S. bishops.  I’m turning my column today over to that response, since we as Catholics need to hear it and take it to heart.  Here’s a news report: Read more →


I’m writing this on August 14, having just presided at Mass commemorating St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Franciscan priest who was killed by the Nazis at Auschwitz in 1941.  You may remember that the previous weekend was the time of the neo-Nazi march[1] and murderous terrorist attack in Charlottesville, VA.  The liturgy sometimes throws out odd juxtapositions for us to think about. Read more →

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