The Holy Family: A Portrait of Humility**

On today's Feast of the Holy Family we hear a story about parents losing their only child. Not for a few minutes or even a couple of hours: Mary and Joseph lose Jesus for days. How delightful!The Church draws our attention to a wonderfully confusing scene, where a frustrated Mary asks "Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety." To this agitated question, the child Jesus poses another question --- "Why were you looking for me?"Why were y … [Read more...]

The Culture Wars Are Over

It began when a mostly intelligent, cheeky, and sometimes rabble-rousing group of students I befriended at Wabash College found themselves short on fresh ingredients. Their publication, The Wabash Commentary, was born from the conservative side of the culture wars, the attempted counter-reformation to the 60's and 70's. Of course, at Wabash, an all-male liberal arts college founded in 1832, things were running a decade and a half behind --- and I consider this proclivity towards t … [Read more...]

The Sacred Excess of Christmas

Dear Fellow Catholics,Merry Christmas! Cristus natus est!It's party time. A time to feast and laugh and sing and make merry.A time to forgive debts and loosen belts. A generous time. A time to give and receive.There is a rigor to this holy season. It's a twelve day party. Stamina and grace are key. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. Christmas is not a single day; it is plural. A season that began on the Feast of the Nativity and will continue until Epiphany.Are you prepared? Pre … [Read more...]

Those Immune to Violence Arm and Disarm

My late Tio "Manino" (short for Marcelino) had an bottle of Mexican brandy beside his recliner. Presidente. He was well into his eighties, past his drinking prime, so I asked what it was for. He replied that, with all the break-ins and robberies and murders that were commonplace in his neighborhood, especially ones targeting the elderly, he had come up with a strategy: if a thug entered his small trailer-house he'd tell him there's nothing to be stolen, nothing of value, but he'd invite the … [Read more...]

A Quiet Joy, I Suppose

The easy excuse is "I've been grading." But it's not true. I write most when I'm busy. My productivity thrives on pressure. I've run up on a shore of some kind, somewhere. I don't know what to call it yet. A disposition just shy of melancholy. Paralyzing, in a satisfying way. When sleep finally conquers and washes over you and knocks you out and brings you the rest you need. That sort of paralysis. A surrender of sorts. It's kept me from writing and arguing. It's made me feel a few things, but … [Read more...]

The Politics of Guadalupe

In loving memory of Fr. Sam Homsey C.PP.S. (1910 - 2004) As a teenager, I played basketball on a small cement slab behind the parish rectory where we lived. My Dad was the pastoral coordinator at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church (in Brady, Texas) at the time. I was told that the place I played at was once the entryway for a small chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe. In that small chapel, there would be Spanish-language Masses offered for the Mexican faithful who attended Mass in Spanish. I d … [Read more...]

A Shepherd Must Be

The man who writes longhand, Pope Benedict XVI, has a Twitter account. Eight of them, to be exact. Maybe more? @Pontifex, in every tongue. What will he say? What will he Tweet? Will he type? What? Questions create hashtags: irreverent, obscene, loathing, adoring, pious, honest, curious, silly, cute and clever. Asking, ridiculing, wondering, defending. Why would he come here, to this wild place? Why dwell in virtual reality, this projection, this wastebasket for time and thought? What brings such … [Read more...]

Haw Wins: Pagan Christianity and the New Apologetics

In my recent reflection on James Wellman's book on Rob Bell, I tried to steer away from dismissing Bell altogether. I tried to be generous without being dishonest. I'm not sure if I did that, but I was left with an aloof sense that I didn't really have my say. "Oh well, no need to always be so critical." I moved on to my next book assignment: From Willow Creek to Sacred Heart. In it, I found nothing less than a complete take-down of the religious fads that Rob Bell and others have come to … [Read more...]

The Beauty and Sufficiency of Catholic Liturgy

Over the past year I've been writing a short book: Liturgy as Mystagogy: An Introduction to a Curriculum of Life. The sentiments motivating that project are one in the same with the memo I posted yesterday about Christmas. The governing idea is a familiar one. It echoes the directives from our most recent popes: we need to build and foster a domestic Church in our homes and families. This is at the very heart of the Year of Faith. Doing it is simple but rigorous. We must submit to the order and t … [Read more...]

Dear Fellow Catholics, It’s NOT Christmas

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,I can hardly believe I'm writing this. It's embarrassing really. I feel like I'm telling someone "your zipper's down." But it's become clear to me that it needs to be said. Please, share this important --- albeit obvious --- note with your friends. Tell everyone. Maybe even your priest.Today is the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time. Advent is quickly approaching, but it's not here yet. You have to wait to wait.Since it's not yet Advent, it is surely not … [Read more...]