Oh, Mercy, Mercy Me, Still

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From last year, slightly updated, my tangled relationship with the Divine Mercy devotion: Oh the sisters of mercy, they are not departed or gone They were waiting for me when I thought that I just can't go on And they brought me their comfort and later they brought me their song And I hope you run into them, you who've been traveling so long Yes you who must leave everything that you cannot control It begins with your family, and later comes round to your soul Well, I've been where you're … [Read more...]

Showing the Beauty of Virtue: Don Bosco’s Legacy of Care

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In a week when the scandal of clerical abuse of young people is again in the headlines, it's particularly important to invoke the prayers of St John Bosco, patron of youth, whom the Church remembers today. And it's especially important for people like me, who raised some hackles this week by calling for more accountability on the part of bishops who enabled and perpetuated the scandal, to acknowledge the Church's much longer and larger legacy of ransoming children from abuse and caring for them … [Read more...]

The Cleaning Crew: 3 Advent Allies for Spiritual Warriors

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So here I am, sitting in the clean and light-filled kitchen of my new apartment in Southern California, basking in the blessing of engaging in the simplest of pleasures that I had denied myself in the worst of the hoarding. Making breakfast. Doing dishes. Taking a shower. Doing laundry, and hanging the clean clothes in an empty closet. Sleeping stretched out on a bed with clean sheets. Sweeping the floor. Seeing┬áthe floor.This week has been a glimpse of heaven, made possible by family and … [Read more...]

The Village of St Bernadette: Egregious Twaddle on Pilgrimage

People wondered why there is no statue of Bernadette in the Grotto. But at Lourdes, we are all Bernadette.

"There was everything hostile to my peace---an incalculable crowd, an oppressive heat, dust, noise, weariness; there was the disappointment of the churches and the image; there was the sour unfamiliarity of the place and the experience; and yet I was neither troubled nor depressed nor irritated nor disappointed. . . . To leave Lourdes at the end was like leaving home."Msgr Robert Hugh Benson, a convert from Anglicanism, wrote these words in his memoir of a visit to Lourdes in 1908. I … [Read more...]

Climb Ev’ry Mountain: Egregious Twaddle on Pilgrimage

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An hour in the Pyrenees, and you suddenly understand the deep ties between geography and belief. And you get a clue about why we're always fighting over territory. Gerald O'Hara was partly right: "It's land, Katie Scarlett! . . . Why, land is the only thing in the world worth workin' for, worth fightin' for, worth dyin' for, because it's the only thing that lasts." Of course it doesn't, really. But since Eden was foreclosed on, that's the story we tell ourselves.Pilgrimage 2012, Day 8: … [Read more...]

Bilocation, Chocolate, and the Patron Saint of Pilgrims: Egregious Twaddle on Pilgrimage

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Pilgrim Pop Quiz: What's the oldest Christian pilgrimage shrine in Europe? Hint: It's associated with St James (Santiago, as they call him in Spain), but it's not the one from that movie with Charlie Sheen's dad. It's in Zaragoza, where the ancient and the thoroughly post-modern meet for tapas, and neither one blinks.Pilgrimage 2012, Day 7: Madrid to ZaragozaWhen you say Spain, Santiago, and pilgrimage, everybody thinks Compostela, the purported resting place of St James the Greater, … [Read more...]

Castles in Spain: Egregious Twaddle on Pilgrimage

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To build castles in Spain is an 800-year-old idiom meaning to daydream, to indulge in idle fancies. But we spent a day with Teresa of Avila, who built an interior castle in Spain as solid and lasting a fortification as the walls that circle the city of her birth.Pilgrimage 2012, Day 5: Salamanca to Madrid, via Alba de Tormes, Avila, and SegoviaSpain's an odd place. It looks golden and sunny, with yellow plains stretching out under bright blue skies as far as the eye can see, but the soul … [Read more...]

Happy Birthday, Dear Mary!

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 As with any family stories, some of the best family stories of our faith are embroideries, fashioned from tradition, love, and a longing for closeness with those who went before us. They tell us as much about ourselves as they do about our ancestors in faith.Today, September 8, the universal Church---East and West---celebrates Mary's birthday. The Solemnity of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary (the Great Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos, the God-Bearer, in Orthodoxy) is one … [Read more...]


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