The Demon in the Shadows: Mental Illness, Mass Shootings, and an Adjunct’s Lonely Death

Two very different stories in my newsfeed this morning. Both are tragic. Each gets attention for the questions it raises about law and justice. But each has another, less obvious thread that compounds the tragedy, complicates the law, raises more troubling questions of justice. Each challenges us to respond to those questions, as Catholics, as Americans. We’ve all been watching the unfolding tragedy of Monday’s mass shooting at the Naval Shipyard in Washington, DC. The victims are being named and… Read more

The Church and the Costa Concordia: A Lesson

  Righting the ship. If you’ve been following the efforts  to raise the wrecked Costa Concordia cruise vessel, grounded for nearly two years on an Italian reef, you know it was no simple operation. It took vision, commitment, lots of money and equipment and time. Righting the Church (which is, even for those of us who share Pope Francis’s graced optimism, always in need of righting) is the much the same. It only takes one person—the Concordia’s captain, who swears… Read more

The Exultation (sic) of the Holy Cross

A year ago today I went on pilgrimage, through the grace of God and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and my friend Michael. A year ago today I took the first steps of my own Way of the Cross, a journey ad Jesum per Mariam—to Jesus through Mary—that I am still only baby steps along. A year ago today I began to know what suffering, joy, death and resurrection really meant, in my own weak flesh. I am still learning, and… Read more

Hey, Who You Callin’ Egregious?: More on a Blog Name

In which Pope Francis gives me an inadvertent shout-out, and I get schooled in the etymology of egregiousness. The news service Zenit has released its English translation of Pope Francis’s recent open letter to the founding editor of Italy’s La Repubblica, a secular newspaper known for posing challenging questions to the Church’s role in Italian life and world politics. In the letter, the pontiff addresses some of these questions directly and personally, as a conversation with Eugenio Scalfari, the editor…. Read more

The Power of Names: 9-11, Nameless Children, and Deportees

  Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you. See, upon the palms of my hands I have written your name. (Isaiah 49:15-16) I’m thinking about names today—the names of the dead. The tolling bells this morning, the moments of silence into which fell, one by one like stones into the rippling reflective pool of memory, the names of those who died 12 years… Read more

On Labor Day, Saying Thank You

Are you off today for the Labor Day holiday? Don’t forget to say thanks. Thank the barista who brews the latte you can relax over, the waitress at the IHOP, the grocery checker who rings up the last-minute stuff for the cookout. Thank the amusement park cast members, the movie ticket sellers, the baseball umps and peanut-tossers. Thank the lifeguards, the park rangers, the zookeepers, the museum staff. Thank the folks who refold all the clothes and rematch all the… Read more

Susie Q, the Dancing Angel

  Medieval theologians—so goes the cliche—spent a lot of time arguing about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. (As with much medieval theology, you had to be there to get why this mattered.) I know an angel who has been dancing on the points of pins, of nails, of knives all her life. And now, thanks to another angel—a podiatrist!—her amazing dance will continue with less pain. We were in high school when Susie Q… Read more

Quick, Martha, Your Girdle! Slaying the Beast of Internet Ordure

  What with so many heads ‘splodin’ in so many directions this morning—see this wise, sane, unexploded post from The Anchoress Elizabeth Scalia if you’ve somehow escaped getting brain matter on you thus far—I am in grave need of the intercession of a holy buttkicker. As the grace of the Catholic calendar would have it, today is the Feast of St Martha. Couldn’t be a better cavalry to call in. Wait, you say, St Martha of Martha, Martha, you worry… Read more

Fine Print on the Invitation: Who Is Welcome at the Table of the Lord?

  I am confused. This will probably seem disingenuous, or a violation of my fast from bile. But I truly am curious, not angry. How do I understand my call to mission—our common calling to evangelize? What kind of invitation do I issue, and to whom? This is what Pope Francis said to the bishops and clergy gathered in Rio today (h/t to Fr James Martin, SJ): Let us help our young people to discover the courage and joy of… Read more

Adios, Wretched Hive of Bile and Gluttony

I’ve been tag-teamed this month by a deadly sin and a medieval disease. I think this stuff is going around, like measles among the uninoculated. So let’s consider this a health advisory. In my case, the deadly sin was gluttony. And I’m ashamed to admit it took me by surprise. You’d think a fat woman would see that one coming . . . and going. But since moving to L.A. to address my depression and hoarding, I’ve been pretty good—better… Read more


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