O Key of David! Opening Wide to the Thrill of Hope

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We're all prisoners, every damn one of us. The more free we declare ourselves to be, the more restraints we chafe at and goads we prick against, the tighter we're bound. You're not the boss of me! we shout---at the Church, the government, each other, God---but inside, we know better. All our running and rebelling and freak-flag waving and commitment phobia is just distraction from the shadows the bars cast over our lonely lives.Guess what? That's GOOD news. Because it's only when we … [Read more...]

O Root of Jesse! Grant Us Patience, and Step On It!

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Time. This time of year, we're obsessed with it, because there's never enough of it. Counting down the days, opening the doors of the Advent calendar, frantically checking the last-date-for-Christmas-delivery schedule. Weaving holiday parties and extra baking and penitential services and the kids' concerts and the trips to the airport into the already tightly stretched fabric of our daily schedules. Trying to squeeze a little peaceful anticipation from the 24/7 carols and jingling and very … [Read more...]

O Adonai! Because You’re God, and We’re Not

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Names mean something. In the ancient world, the cauldron of cultures where Israel took shape, all words were performative: they called into existence what they described. Names and titles defined relationship. One's true name was a word of immense power, guarded carefully. To entrust another with one's name was an act of the deepest intimacy because of the vulnerability such a revelation implied.Tonight we chant the second of the O Antiphons, and we invoke the Messiah by one of God's most … [Read more...]

O Wisdom! Pile on the Prudence, Please!

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Tonight they begin, the seven prophetic antiphons chanted before and after the Magnificat at Vespers. Each invokes the Messiah by one of his scriptural titles, and each calls on us to prepare a place for him--at his coming now and at his Final Coming--with an attitude that demonstrates our readiness.So, for December 17, O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodidisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter suaviter disponensque omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae. O Wisdom, who … [Read more...]

Where We Were, When: One Boomer’s Apology for Carrying the Kennedy Torch

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Long stood Sir Bedivere Revolving many memories, till the hull Look’d one black dot against the verge of dawn, And on the mere the wailing died away. ---Alfred Tennyson, "The Passing of Arthur," from Idylls of the KingWhat changed that day was everything.Yes, with apologies to post-Boomers, this anniversary---like the past 50 years---is all about us. Of course we remember Where We Were, and not just because that was the day nonstop media coverage sprang to life to remind us. I t … [Read more...]

The Hard Grace of Receiving: Prayers for the Margaret Marys, All

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When the story of the hard life and lonely death of former Duquesne University adjunct Margaret Mary Vojtko first lit up the Internet (prompted by labor lawyer Daniel Kovalik's September op-ed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), attention focused on the harsh treatment of adjuncts by universities in general, and the supposed Grinchishly unChristian treatment of this adjunct by Catholic Duquesne in particular. Beyond tweeting #IAmMargaretMary in righteous solidarity, very few saw Madame Vojtko as … [Read more...]

Hans Kueng and the Grace of a Good Death

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Saw this Reuters story, Catholic rebel Kueng, 85, considers assisted suicide, today courtesy of my Patheos neighbor Frank Weathers, who's painting pillars and has no time to comment on those who like to pull them down. Hans Kueng, Roman Catholicism's best known rebel theologian, is considering capping a life of challenges to the Vatican with a final act of dissent - assisted suicide.Kueng, now 85 and suffering from Parkinson's disease, writes in final volume of his memoirs that people have … [Read more...]

You Can Lead a Beggar to Bread: Pope Francis on Evangelization & Proselytism

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It's Tuesday, and Pope Francis is smacking gobs again. We're still waiting for a better English translation of his latest published conversation with La Repubblica founder Eugenio Scalfari , but it's safe to say there's a lot of seasickness aboard ye olde Barque of Peter this morning. Again.My gob has been so far pretty unsmackable, but a few pull quotes from this latest piece made me reach for the spiritual Dramamine. One, in particular, seemed to be a stunningly insensitive and snarky way … [Read more...]


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