A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats—Or Does It?

Lifeguard Boat

Recently the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has been calling for an increase in the minimum wage. I don't like to argue with the bishops, and I'm not going to do so now; but I worry about efforts to use the Big Hammer: to try to fix social problems by fixing the "system", rather than by helping individuals.It's true that our society has systemic problems. It is clear that we have problems in the area of poverty and access to healthcare that, strictly speaking, we don't need to have. … [Read more...]

Lumen Fidei: When Practice and Theory Don’t Match

Angry man with knife

There's an old joke that's not really a joke: Q: What's the difference between theory and practice? A: In theory, there's no difference; and in practice there is.This is actually the best description of the difference between theory and practice that I've seen, and it gets to the heart of it. Theory is clean, pure, and ideal; practice is real, messy, and human. Practice can approach theory in the best of us...and then, there's the rest of us.Last week, I wrote that Christian truth is … [Read more...]

Spiritual Engineering


People have the notion that Christians are control freaks. We want to tell you how to live, and what you should do, and take all of your freedom away. And certainly there are Christians like that. (Pick any sin you like, there are Christians who exemplify it—and that's no surprise, it's just what you'd expect if you understand Christian teaching.)But really, we aren't meant to be control freaks. At our best, we should have no desire to tell others just exactly how they should live.T … [Read more...]

The Mystery of Service


This month's post at CatholicMom concerns the Second Joyful Mystery of the Rosary: the Visitation, or, as I often think of it, the Mystery of Service. Enjoy! … [Read more...]

My Joy is Complete


On Saturday I made my life profession as a Lay Dominican, and that was a good day. But today, Sunday, Divine Mercy Sunday, the Second Sunday of Easter, was a day of great joy.Some background. I've been a member of our parish's RCIA team this year, and for those who don't know, RCIA (the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) is the name of the usual process by which adults become members of the Catholic Church. For the last six months, I've been meeting and talking with people who are … [Read more...]

The Desolation of the Draggin’

Dragon Statue

The Anchoress wrote last week about her experience of desolation in Penn Station. She was people-watching, a favorite activity, and then everything changed:I wouldn’t presume to say that anything was being communicated to me, but I nevertheless had a glimpse — or an overwhelming “sense” — of something. In that brief flash I knew that hovering over us, near us, within us, all about us, was an awful, unstoppable ache of love and sadness; a sense of “Oh, my people! How often I have wanted to ga … [Read more...]

Taste and See

world of warcraft

For the past several weeks I've been talking about Christian belief: how I came to belief, and the general basis for belief in Christ. In particular, I maintained the following points:God is the creator of the cosmos. He is transcendent, i.e., not part of the cosmos, but also immanent, i.e., He works actively within every part of the cosmos. We can prove through natural theology that this kind of God must exist. Natural theology doesn't tell us very much about Him. Because … [Read more...]

Lumen Fidei: The Vine and the Branches

grape vines

We often speak as though to be a Christian you have to be good—as though being good was a necessary precondition for being a Christian. In fact, the dynamic points the other way: it is through faith in Christ that we can truly become better than we are.The thing about being good is that it takes energy. It is work. And although it is work that we can undertake on a purely human level, given that the natural law is available to everyone, it is not a task that we can complete on our o … [Read more...]

Annunciation: The Mystery of Vocation


I think of the Annunciation as the Mystery of Vocation, the Mystery of Calling. The Lord called Mary to be the theotokos, the God-Bearer. Jesus calls each of us to follow him, each in our own way. Jesus called me to be a husband and father, and much later to be a lay member of the Order of Preachers. It is our part to answer that call as Mary did, with “Fiat voluntas tua.”My April piece for CatholicMom is on the First Joyful Mystery of the Rosary, the Annunciation. … [Read more...]