That Perpetually Lost and Confused Feeling is not a Bug, it’s a Feature

The headline sets aside the question of pre-Fall living, which none of us are doing.  It's the 16th of the month, which means I'm pre-prayed.  Naturally I completely forgot and re-prayed this morning, which you're allowed to do.  I can't remember what thoughts I had this morning, but here's where my thinking went last time I reflected on today's Gospel: Lord, I don’t understand everything. I’m struggling with difficulties that are leaving me feeling completely lost and maybe even abandoned. Help … [Read more...]

Letter to a Discouraged Evangelist

I wrote the following in response to a "What would you say?" question from Sherry Weddell, who shared in a private forum the comments she'd received from a discouraged-but-faithful Catholic.  The details hardly matter. We all know the territory.  Here's my answer, and couple follow-on comments come after. *** Dear Friend in the Field,You're absolutely right. Catholics are horrible and evangelization can drive you mad. It's pretty common for people who are serious about the faith to go through p … [Read more...]

Why Does the Ascension Matter?

This is my annual reminder of why we bother with all this Jesus business.  If you're not in it for this, I'm not sure what you're doing.  First ran at the Wine Dark Sea. *** We think of atheists as the people who actively deny the existence of God, but there’s a much more pernicious and widespread atheism among religious people today: Faithy-ism. We talk about God, and do God-themed activities, but we don’t really mean it.  It’s all just a metaphor.  Our spirituality consists of our deeply felt … [Read more...]

The Shame that Breeds Helplessness is Destroying Our Parishes

There was some debate among internet-Catholics about the recent findings by the Pew Research Center concerning the growing departure of young people from the faith - any faith. Some were asking whether the statistics were accurate.I had an impulse: How about an informal poll?  My parish youth program has a private Facebook group, and I figured we had a good pile of parents of older children -- kids in that target 18-30 age range.  Maybe our youth director keeps tabs on what becomes of the pro … [Read more...]

Why I Love Facebook Ads

I was clicking through Facebook this morning and of course there were lunch boxes everywhere.  Certain children of mine have been campaigning for shiny new lunch boxes and leaving up browser tabs full of end-of-season clearance choices so that I'm sure to stumble across the good deals.  Facebook knows.Facebook knows when I buy shoes, and gamely suggests I buy another pair just like the ones I bought.  Facebook knows when I am in the market for a new pair of jeans, or a new piece of plumbing. … [Read more...]

Survey Results: What Would Make it Easier for Families to Learn About the Catholic Faith?

The responses to the first Listen to Me survey have been astounding so far.  If you are charged with the care of souls, could I recommend you do this?  It takes about twenty minutes to whip together a Google form, and then you have a free, confidential way to ask open-ended questions that let people tell you what they are really thinking.  Even the shy people.  Even the people you think you have pegged, but really you don't.Do this, guys.  You'll be stunned at what you learn.FYI, survey s … [Read more...]

If Your Ministry, Apostolate, School, or Parish is Failing . . . It’s Probably You. – Updated

Updated to preface the comments below with responses to two readers who scrupled in various directions.1. For a clear understanding of what it is we humans actually do 99% of the time, read Simcha Fisher's seminal work on the topic, "Go Forth and Get Me Butter, Says the Lord."2. When you get down to the reality-check paragraph, here's the expansion pack comment: There are a lot of reasons a ministry might not "succeed," and one of them is that you are doing exactly what God asked you to … [Read more...]