Father Knows Best

Fr. Steve Grunow from Word on Fire (who I am blessed to have been joining for regular recurring hour-long sessions on Sheila Liaugminas’s Relevant Radio show for over a year now) writes about St. Gregory the Great on his feast day today: Perhaps the greatest spiritual lesson for us in the witness of St. Gregory is discerned in his vocation. Gregory correctly discerned that the Lord had chosen him for monastic life, but God would beckon Gregory beyond his own… Read more

A Labor of Christian Love: Encountering Renewal in Bismarck

I’m spending Labor Day weekend on the campus of the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota for a conference on the future of Catholic education (@UMary happens to be bit of an exciting and expanding beacon of just that. It’s a celebration of one of the University of Mary’s latest acquisitions, Don Briel, who established the flagship Catholic studies program in the United States, at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. My pre-conference Q&A with Briel is here…. Read more

An Atrocity Happens. We Remain Silent?

This is no ordinary opening of an academic year, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., said toward the end of Mass for my alma mater’s academic year. “Atrocities happen because there are people who commit them and because there are people who simply choose to remain silent,” he said at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, adjacent to the Catholic University of America. He said that we cannot ignore that there are today “brothers and sisters… Read more

Hail Mary Pass for Christians Under Fire

What if at the top of every waking hour, we each prayed a “Hail Mary” for persecuted Christians in the world? What if every waking hour we did this for those who suffer for – and with — Christ? As we’re overwhelmed by headlines, this is something we can do. Set a reminder, do what you need to do. Could teachers do this in classrooms? Imagine if Catholic meetings — in chanceries and parishes — began this way? Pope Francis… Read more

He Never Tired of Repeating That Only Name that Counts

Today (August 20) has been the feast day of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, a saint close to the heart of the pope emeritus, Benedict XVI. To know St. Bernard is to understand what passion flows from the heart of God for man. In the Liturgy of the Hours today is this from the abbot of Clairvaux: Love is sufficient of itself, it gives pleasure by itself and because of itself. It is its own merit, its own reward. Love looks… Read more

Was Your Prayer a Failure?

This was one of the questions a journalist asked Pope Francis on the plane ride back to Rome from Korea: Given what has happened in Gaza, was the Prayer for Peace held in the Vatican on June 8 a failure? Pope Francis answered, in part (according to the English transcript reporter Gerald O’Connell wrote up, first published in America: You ask me, was it a failure? No, the door remains open …. the door of prayer was opened. And it… Read more

For Korea, for St. Louis, for the World

A few words about peace from Pope Francis, upon landing in Korea: The quest for peace also represents a challenge for each of us, and in a particular way for those of you dedicated to the pursuit of the common good of the human family through the patient work of diplomacy. It is the perennial challenge of breaking down the walls of distrust and hatred by promoting a culture of reconciliation and solidarity. For diplomacy, as the art of the… Read more

Robin Williams and Divine Mercy

From a 2007 interview, you get the sense he may have had a sense of it – all the more reason to remember to pray for people we know and are aware of. Could the grace from those prayers push them through to see the loving and forgiving and strengthening face of God here? To keep them from despair? “You get a real strong sense of God when you go through rehab,” he says. Williams, 56, checked himself into a… Read more

Laugh. Pray. Live. Robin Williams, R.I.P.

What if every person of faith who ever laughed at a Robin Williams joke, prayed for him? And every day it happened? Could this be a new way for us to live? On Sunday night I turned on Dead Poets Society, the 1989 movie where Robin Williams, teaching his students poetry, famously encourages them to give a nod to Walt Whitman and go ahead and address him as “O Captain, my Captain.” I remember watching Dead Poets Society when it… Read more

Do Not Let Yourself Be Robbed of Faith, Hope, Love, Joy

All too often, in the busy-ness of life, in the overwhelming gravity of news headlines, immersed in a popular culture that all too often keeps us mired in our worst (and basest) habits and instincts, we let ourselves get robbed of that something more we’re made for. Toward that, I end my syndicated column this week on the beautiful new movie The Giver (opens Friday) with: If love is our purpose and destiny, The Giver leaves us wanting nothing less…. Read more


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