On Thomas Merton & Being Your Brother’s Keeper

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The First Mourning by William-Adolphe Bouguereau Then the Lord asked Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" He answered, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” - Genesis 4:9It was 1942, just after the Feast of the Visitation, that Thomas Merton received word. He was going to have a visitor. The two couldn't have been on more divergent paths. Thomas Merton was a novice aspiring to be a monk at Gethsemani, a Trappist monastery in Kentucky. His brother, John Paul, was a soldier preparing for … [Read more...]

The Wisdom of Dickens’ Second Ghost


 As the second Advent candle is lit and the days are advancing to Christmas, my nostalgia climbs to new peaks. My tendency at this time of year is to flee the winter chill by imagining myself wrapped in an overwarm blanket, nestled in an overstuffed chair perched before an overstocked fire (I say "imagining" because this vision rarely comes to fruition). Nonetheless, the ornaments have been hung, the nativity scene arranged and Vince Guaraldi alternates with Nat King Cole on the … [Read more...]

“One Day, Not Far Off ” – Advent & Liberation


"Christians used the word 'advent' to express their relationship with Jesus Christ: Jesus is the King who entered this poor 'province' called 'earth' to pay everyone a visit; he makes all those who believe in him participate in his Coming, all who believe in his presence in the liturgical assembly. The essential meaning of the word adventus was: God is here, he has not withdrawn from the world, he has not deserted us. Even if we cannot see and touch him as we can tangible realities, he is here … [Read more...]

Ferguson, Martin Luther King, Jr. & Being Honest About Protest


It's late - very late. It is the second night of protests in Ferguson, Missouri. It is the second night of reaction to the Grand Jury verdict not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown. The protests last night devolved to riots, looting and arson. Tonight the protests have spread to other major metropolitan areas. And the nation watches anxiously. This post is not going to discuss the guilt or innocence of Officer Darren Wilson. The legal system has spoken th … [Read more...]

The Pope, Conscience & the Clattering Train


It was April, 1935. And Winston Churchill, a lowly Member of the British Parliament, was beside himself. After all, the German Fuhrer had done it again. After being in power for a little over two years, German Chancellor (and de jure Dictator) Adolf Hitler had baldly & brazenly told his British counterparts that the German air force (the existence of which was outlawed by the Versailles Treaty of 1919) now equaled the British Royal Air Force in size. But Churchill's frustration wasn't so … [Read more...]

First Reconciliation & An Encounter with “An Absolute Beauty”


I'd never been to a retreat like this. This would be my first. I guess that's not surprising given my late arrival to Catholicism, converting only four years ago. But now, my oldest daughter (a second-grader) was about to take part in her First Reconciliation. So I found myself on Saturday morning arriving with my wife and daughter at our church's retreat to prepare for this Holy Sacrament. Starting us off, the deeply thoughtful yet puckish Director of Children's Faith Formation, Andrew Allen, … [Read more...]