When Half-Spent Was the Night

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One of my favorite lines from one of my favorite Christmas carols is a great reminder that the Light of the World comes into our darkness when the night is half-spent. The tradition that Jesus was born at midnight is probably based partly on the language from the Book of Wisdom describing the angel who liberated the Israelites from Egypt: For when peaceful stillness compassed everything and the night in its swift course was half spent, Your all-powerful word from heaven's royal throne bounded, … [Read more...]

It’s Always Apocalypse, Now

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One more midnight gone, but for Christians---especially in Advent---we live always in the end-times. And that's good. As a small, fearful child with a galloping case of scruples, I was terrified of the End of the World. Those were apocalyptic times for Catholic school kids, the late fifties and early sixties. There were the weekly drop drills intended to prepare us for the nuclear annihilation that was always thisclose; Sister Maria Consuelo, our Cuban refugee third-grade teacher, was always … [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 the floor. This week has been a glimpse of heaven, made possible by family and … [Read more...]

Spiritual AND Religious—Surprise!: A Book Review

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Catholic Spiritual Practices: A Treasury of Old & New Edited by Colleen M. Griffith & Thomas H. Groome Paraclete Press, 2012 This 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

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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...]

Home for Advent, Christmas, and Ever After

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Really, I tell you, never, never, never count God out. Yesterday, while I was bewailing the uncertainty of my future and being lectured by Dr Phil in the Sky, the band of angels who are my family and friends were tying up the last loose ends of a conspiracy to get me not only a home, but Home. Next Friday I will wing my way out of Ur . . . or Egypt . . . or Dayton, Ohio, and head back to the City of the Angels. Waiting for me will be a small, manageable, even affordable by LA standards … [Read more...]

Homeless in Advent, Thank God

Pieter Brueghel the Elder, The Census at Bethlehem

I've been dreading this Advent, usually my favorite season. In a time ripe with promise, all I could see was loss. But then God answered my prayer---with a big fat stupid No. Over at the Patheos Atheist Channel (a concept that still makes me giggle), blogger Bob Seidensticker has been engaged in a long and, to him, frustrating attempt to convince believers in general (and Christians in particular) that they are deluded, because prayer doesn't work and miracles can't be proved. The frustrating … [Read more...]

Thank You, and Please Pass the Faith

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Responding (belatedly) to a Patheos roundtable on giving thanks for those who nurtured our faith, I am---as usual---overwhelmed by the possibilities. In my 62-year dance of reversion, just about every person I've encountered has given me reason to believe. Like J. D. Salinger's Seymour, I have been blessed by those who've touched my life: “If or when I do start going to an analyst, I hope to God he has the foresight to let a dermatologist sit in on the consultation. A hand specialist. I have … [Read more...]


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