“With Grounded Hope”

In his homily at Vespers on the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul today, in the Basilica of San Paolo fuori le Mura (St Paul Outside the Walls), Pope Benedict XVI also found the love story at the heart of conversion, and made it big enough to encircle all Christians on this last day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: While experiencing these days the painful situation of our divisions, we Christians can and must look to the future with hope, because Christ's victory means to overcome … [Read more...]

Falling in Love Again, and Again, and Again

Every heart, every heart to love will come but like a refugee. ~ Leonard Cohen, "Anthem"   In the Church calendar, today is the day we commemorate the Conversion of St Paul. But we might as well call it Valentines Day--because every conversion (or reversion, for that matter) is a falling in love of sorts. As recounted in the Acts of the Apostles, Paul's conversion from Saul the Christian-hunter to Paul the Christ-hunted involves a literal fall, a bolt from the blue that dazzles the world … [Read more...]

Egregious Twaddle, Eloquent Silence

In case anyone wonders why I'm not taking up Max Lindenman's suggestion to rename this blog The Trough, here's the genesis of Egregious Twaddle: When I worked in catechetical publishing a million years ago, our general editor and house curmudgeon-slash-spiritual-director at Benziger was the redoubtable Fr Gerard Weber. Jerry had a mind like a steel trap, a deep devotion to the Church of his Chicago roots, and zero tolerance for the kind of flowery, "feminine" language that so often … [Read more...]

A Blogger Baptism

The baptismal font in St Peter's Basilica in Rome, made from an inverted porphyry  sarcophagus lid. Nice symbolism there.It's my baptismal day, or so I'm figuring.Thanks to the promptings of the Spirit and the pushes and shoves and support of the best bunch of sponsors and godparents an initiate could hope for--Max Lindenman, Frank Weathers, and The Anchoress Elizabeth Scalia--I'm jumping into the pool and coming up a neophyte Catholic blogger, no longer just an opinionated inquirer … [Read more...]

I Have Met the Elephant, and It Is Me

Bernini's elephant base for the obelisk in front of the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in RomeHaving struggled through yesterday's post, I went to Mass today prepared to be more open to an expected pro-life message than I was last year on this Roe v. Wade anniversary weekend. I vowed to acknowledge the elephant in the pew. I just didn't think I would be the elephant.To be fair, my parish is not known for a particularly strong or explicit pro-life outreach, which is one of the … [Read more...]

The Elephant in the Pew

In the tangled journey home of this particular returning Catholic, this is one of the toughest times of the year. Tomorrow marks the 39th anniversary of the passage of Roe v. Wade, and everybody I know is--literally or figuratively--on the bus to Washington for the annual March for Life. Most of the Catholics I know and love are on the bus in support of the march and in passionate protest of the right to legalized abortion that Roe established. Most of the non-Catholics I know and love are on … [Read more...]

Girls in Love, Lambs to the Slaughter

It's the Eve of St. Agnes, and it's cold. Cold as the beginning of Keats' long lyric poem, set on and named for this night: St. Agnes' Eve -- Ah, bitter chill it was! The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold; The hare limp'd trembling through the frozen grass, And silent was the flock in the wooly fold . . . If you were a young unmarried European woman on this night, in times past, you'd be preparing yourself like Keats' heroine Madeline to receive a rapturous vision of your husband-to-be. … [Read more...]

The Ugliness of Smart? An Update Foiled

I thought I was going to squeeze out a win for Team Non-Beauty when I saw, at Slate, that The Explainer's 2011 Question of the Year turned out to be Why Are Smart People Usually Ugly? Woohoo! I thought. If we can't be good, we can sure claim the intellectual high ground and devote ourselves to being evil genii. I am Mojo Jojo! You must obey! But Nooooooooo.Turns out, some studies show a general correlation between beauty and smarts, which I should have figured out from the sheer number of … [Read more...]