Chiara, Lady of Light: A Renewed Prayer for Guidance in the Nun Wars

ClaraPainting1

UPDATE: I wrote this reflection on St Clare two years ago, at the start of the Nun Wars. The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and its head-butting with the Vatican are in the news again, and on the feast of St Clare it's worth looking at (and praying for the intercession of) this singular woman religious who both challenged and obeyed the Church. At root, the word religious means "one who binds herself again." To what---and to whom---do today's women religious, sisters and nuns, … [Read more...]

Magdalene the Magnificent

magdalene

With the exception of that other Mary, the Mother of Jesus, she's the most famous woman in Christianity. (And in contrast to that other Mary, the most infamous.) Certainly, she's second only to that other Mary among artistic representations of the women of the New Testament. Her name in French, Madeleine, when run through the British mouth, gave us maudlin, which these days connotes a kind of boozy sentimental tearfulness, but originally referred to her penitential weeping. By extension, a … [Read more...]

Invoking the Pig Man: A St Swithun’s Day Card

William Blake (1757-1827), The Ordeal of Queen Emma (1793)

Tomorrow is St Swithun's Day, and it can't come to soon for our parched part of the country.I used to think St Swithun's Day was just a made up feast, a kind of shorthand for all those obscure feasts and festivals in our calendar, or the colloquial equivalent of some far-off day that never comes. "What are you waiting for, St Swithun's Day?" my English father used to say. My former mother-in-law, God rest her, was the greeting card industry's dream. She sent cards for any and every occasion, … [Read more...]

Bacon and Butter and Bathtub Beer: Why the Church Needs St Brigid, Bad

UPDATE: It's Lá Fhéile Bríde, the Feast of Brigid, and last year's post is no less true today:She's the patroness of women (especially "fallen" ones), poets, Ireland, and beer, among many, many other wonderful things. She had the ability to multiply butter and bacon. She was Chiara to St Patrick's Francesco. As an abbess she had jurisdiction over a double monastery of men and women, a center of learning and culture that kept the perpetual light of knowledge burning through ages that would hav … [Read more...]


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