In this episode, Clark and Laura talk about sociological and spiritual pitfalls within the new traditionalist movement—the possibility of schism. They discuss the threat of schism on this issue, the importance of pastoring as a constitutive part of the Catholic Church, and the historical heresy of Jansenism and its relation to the unhealthy parts of the traditionalist movement.
In this episode, Laura and Clark discuss negative, unhealthy parts of the traditionalist movement within the Catholic Church. There’s no problem with having a liturgical preference, but there is a problem with going to Mass and being a liturgical preference. Every Mass, no matter how dull or uninspiring, contains so many graces and Jesus’s Eucharist presence—that’s the whole point of liturgy. They discuss what a healthy traditional movement would involve: it will have people who are psychologically well and healed or healing, it will be inviting, and it will be positive. The things that go wrong within traditionalism—rigidity and over-exclusivity—are harmful to the Church’s efforts at evangelization, so it’s important for all of us, who are called to be missionaries, to understand these things.
In this episode, Clark, the founder of A Simple House’s ministry, and Laura, one of the early missionaries, talk about the origins of the Traditionalist movement in the Church, why it was needed, and how it affects us today. They discuss Vatican II, and why the Church needed more traditionalism post-Vatican II. They talk about the intentions of the Second Vatican Council: to help the modern mind engage with the doctrine of the Church, not changing Church doctrine, by returning Scripture and tradition of the Early Church Fathers to the forefront.
In this episode, Clark and Laura talk how Simple House developed a model of Catholic evangelization based on accompaniment. They discuss a “schism” around charitable work that existed in the Church in the early 2000’s when Simple House was founded. There was a division between “social-justice” Catholics excited about charitable work, and orthodox Catholics. At A Simple House, Clark and Laura’s goal was to hear God’s call and the cry of the poor, to help people, to be in solidarity with them, and to speak the truth to them—to be missionaries in the full sense of the word. In some ways, they were too conservative for the liberals and too liberal for the conservatives. They also discuss how Simple House came to develop a theory of mission work—what can be taught, and what comes down to the intuition, grace, and discernment when it comes to evangelization and service.
In this episode, Clark gives a State-of-the-Ministry update, reviewing the ministry we did during our Thanksgiving and Christmas outreaches—our busiest times of the year for our mission. We visit neighborhoods that we serve, go door-to-door, meeting families and getting to know them and praying with them. Inviting someone else to lead the prayer, Clark notes, is an important act of evangelization: not only is it a display of respect and solidary with the poor, but you are getting that person to pray. He also describes what we call our “Party-in-a-box” ministry, something we do often during the holiday season: a time where we celebrate and eat with the poor families we serve. He also discusses our visiting seminarians, our upcoming silent retreat, and visiting Catholic college student groups. Clark ends the podcast with a recent story about one of the friends that we serve.
The Simpleton Podcast, ep. 16: Ep 16: A Simple House Gets Cultured: An Interview with Mike Tenney of “Pop Culture Catechism”
In this episode, Clark interviews Mike Tenney, long-time supporter and friend of A Simple House’s ministry. Mike reflects on the growth he’s seen since the founding of Simple House’s mission: from the early days of Laura, Clark and other missionaries deciding they want to serve God radically in voluntary poverty and seek out the poorest of the poor to serve them spiritually and physically, to scores of missionaries coming to serve the poor over the almost twenty years that the ministry has existed.
In this episode, Laura and Clark talk about how to build good, healthy community. Good Catholic community forms when you have a goal that’s not “build community” or “form friendships;” when you have a common goal in mind, and work shoulder-to-shoulder with someone towards an exterior goal. In the case of A Simple House, this shared goal is evangelization and service to the poor. By working towards this common goal, missionaries form strong friendships. Clark and Laura discuss some pitfalls that Catholic communities can fall into: co-dependency on community, building your whole identity on community, comparing other members of the community to you, and over-commitment to the mission.
Laura and Clark discuss the founding of A Simple House. After Clark left graduate school, he felt called to be a missionary and work with and befriend the poor. He eventually decided to found a Catholic ministry that would serve the poor through friendship evangelization. In this episode, Clark and Laura talk about what poverty was like in DC when they started the ministry 20 years ago, and about wanting to take the Bible story of the rich young man seriously, trusting in Divine Providence, and solidarity. The first few years of A Simple House’s ministry was experimental, as they figured out how to evangelize well and serve inner-city families meaningfully. In this episode, they discuss many of the ups and downs of those early years.
Clark and Laura discuss how the rising inflation in the US has an impact on people in poverty, based on their experience serving the poor through our ministry, as well as Clark’s background in economics.
Clark delivers a State-of-the Ministry address. He talks about missionary recruitment, fundraising, and the process of starting a new house (?!!), as well as some recent ministry updates in DC and Kansas City. At A Simple House, all missionaries who come to serve are encouraged to make the ministry their own and to experiment with different ways to serve the poor and evangelize. Clark discusses how this attitude influences the way that the mission is run.