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...]

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

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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 … [Read more...]

The Exultation (sic) of the Holy Cross

The High Cross at Fatima, taken on the first stop of our 2012 Marian Pilgrimage

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 I exult.I've always loved the story behind the Feast of the Exaltation of … [Read more...]

Pope Francis: Intervention for a Hoarder Church

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I got my wish. Last week, the conclave elected as a successor to St Peter and to the retired Pope Benedict XVI a man who seems to embody the best of my two favorite popes (John XXIII and Benedict)---doctrinal faithfulness and pastoral joy. I even called St Joseph's Day as the perfect date for the inaugural Mass. What I couldn't predict is that the erstwhile Cardinal Bergoglio, with whose name I wasn't even familiar when it was announced, would take the papal name and embody the best of my … [Read more...]

The Cat & The Cardinal: Assigning Moral Culpability When the Will Is Ill

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My cat, Carlos, died last week. To be completely honest, I killed him---even though I was 2500 miles away and had not seen him since November.I found out about his passing in the way so many of us learn about death these days: on Facebook. My former landlady, who assumed the care of Carlos along with the countless other burdens my hoarding left in its wake, posted a picture of him in happier times, with a message that said, "RIP Carlos. You deserved a better end."It was a shock, and … [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┬áthe floor.This week has been a glimpse of heaven, made possible by family and … [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...]


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