Breaching a Contract, Breaking Faith: Religious Freedom in Cincinnati

 We're used to thinking of religious freedom as an individual right---my freedom of conscience to believe and practice as I choose. But as the continuing debate over the HHS mandate demonstrates, freedom of religion under the First Amendment also guarantees the rights of religious institutions. When those freedoms collide, what gives?In the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, for which I perform occasional work as an independent contractor, the cases of two dismissed Catholic school … [Read more...]

It’s a Wonderful Mardi Gras, Encore

Reposting from last year, because it's as true as ever. Our own celebrations might be subdued today, because we're in a reflective mood after the announcement of the Holy Father's renunciation of office. But the rest of you? Let it roll, on us.Today is Lundi Gras---Fat Tuesday---in New Orleans. Last night the monarchs of Zulu and Rex arrived by boat at the foot of Canal Street, kicking off the party that won't end until tonight at midnight. The good times are rolling, in a frenzy of parades … [Read more...]

Strength of Mind and Body: Praying for the Pope, the Church, the World

 My eyes popped open at 3:01 am PST, the TV still on the overnight news. A few minutes later, a special report: POPE BENEDICT XVI TO RESIGN.If, as it seems now, the reports of Pope Benedict XVI's resignation are true, there is special reason to invoke the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes on this her feast day.According to the text of the pope's message, which has been posted on the website of Vatican Radio, the Holy Father---"after having repeatedly examined my … [Read more...]

Our Left Foot: Downton Abbey & Anti-Catholic Snobbery

 Not a few American Catholic fans of Downton Abbey were taken aback by a couple of scenes in last night's episode from Season 3. [Spoiler warning, if you're a DA follower who's behind on your dvr.] When Lady Sybil's widower---the Irishman Tom Branson, who was also once the family chauffeur---announces his intentions to have their newborn daughter baptized a Catholic, he triggers an explosion of protest from Lord Grantham. "A left-FOOTER?" Robert blurts at the breakfast table.In … [Read more...]

Spiritual AND Religious—Surprise!: A Book Review

Catholic Spiritual Practices: A Treasury of Old & New Edited by Colleen M. Griffith & Thomas H. Groome Paraclete Press, 2012This time of year, our thoughts often turn to the good things that come in small packages, the gifts that have the power to surprise us, to contain more than they might promise at first glance. Catholic Spiritual Practices, a slim volume published by Paraclete Press for Boston College's Church in the 21st Century Center, is just such surprise package.At … [Read more...]

10 Things I’ll Miss Most About Catholic Ohio

I haven't been Catholic in Ohio all that long---only two out of the 16 years I lived here. And my Catholic experience is limited geographically to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. But now that the trajectory of my life is flinging me precipitously (though blessedly, blessedly!) west to Los Angeles again, I want to name some of the things I'll miss most about being Catholic here. If you live in the archdiocese, cherish these. If you're passing through, make their acquaintance.In no particular … [Read more...]

I’m That Guy: The Gunpowder of Being Catholic in Public

On the eve of a contentious election, pondering the explosive nexus of faith and politics.Please to remember The Fifth of November Gunpowder, Treason, and Strife . . .Back when I was in my Anglican interim, I loved commemorating Guy Fawkes Day. A haunting little historical nursery rhyme, bonfires, the burning of effigies, and children in raggedy clothes with ash-blackened faces accosting householders, begging A penny for the Guy!---what's not to love? I had a vague notion of the … [Read more...]

A Journal of My Council: A Book Review

My Journal of the Council by Yves Congar, OP Liturgical Press, 2012Even as my arteries and my religious views harden with age, I remain a daughter of Vatican II. The first session of the council was officially convened on my 12th birthday in 1962, and the fruits of the council were the single most important influence on my faith formation. As I've written here before, I still consider myself a Catholic of the John XXIIIrd Generation, and proud of it. I carried a well-thumbed copy of the … [Read more...]