St. Maximilian Kolbe, Pray for Me, a Sinner, and a White Man.

I’m a white male, age 35-45. According to all statistics and research, I have power in America. It’s not something I asked for or wanted.  At first glance, nothing about my life screams prestige or influence. I come from a teenage union, my parents picking soybeans in an Indiana field just so I could eat. Not exactly a life of ease and leisure with summers at Martha’s Vineyard and an Ivy League education. No, I have power because I was... Read more

Dark Devotional: Who Will You Call When You’re Drowning?

  I want to tell you a story.   I want to tell you a story of a powerful, personal experience of the Holy Spirit.   I want to tell you a story of a time when the presence of God with me was tangible, undeniable, enveloping like warm water, as real as the chair you are sitting in. I want to tell you of how I trembled and was transformed.   I want to tell you a story like... Read more

Approaching Mystery: Late Night Deck Sentence in the Rain

Once I loved the world, or thought I did, I prayed every night, read parts of the Bible, took my mind to school every day, but lived for summer and boats, fished all day by myself, sat cross-legged in huts of pine and leaves, breathed fire and smoke back in the tall trees behind the cottage, watched the stars in the sky and their reflections on the lake, made a promise to myself never to give up my 8 year... Read more

Drinking Blood and Feeling Guilty: Jennifer the Damned is a Catholic Vampire

  If you’re a Catholic, you take your guilt to confession. Here’s a confession for you: I shamelessly read the Twilight series—and I’m sure I liked it too much.   Karen Ullo’s new novel, Jennifer the Damned (Wiseblood Books, 2017) successfully navigates the teen vampire genre towards Catholicism: Jennifer is a teenaged vampire who kills against her will, who wants to love, but can’t, and hopes, regardless, that God can love her, somehow. Reading her story, I couldn’t help but think of the Biblical... Read more

Dark Devotional: Hold Fast and Light Your Lamps

    My Friends, I’m tired of living. I don’t mean this is a suicidal way. This is not a cry for help. I’m just truly tired of living in this world, in this country, that is right now so full of hate. I know I’m not alone and I know this isn’t unique to me. I know that so many of my brothers and sisters are feeling this way as well. We long for a day in which God’s... Read more

Dark Devotional: Creating From the Wound

I live in Los Angeles, the epicenter of self-defining artists. And, like most people in this city, I consider myself an artist. However, unlike most people living in Los Angeles — I believe we’re all artists in some form or another. I’m in constant awe of the way people create, perform, produce, and refine their skills. I see this in the visual arts, parenting, writing, cooking, teaching, care-taking, and most avenues of life. In LA, I’m constantly bombarded with things... Read more

Mary Magdalene, Wonder Woman, and Me

In honor of the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, July 22 I wore a long, red, silky and glittery skirt and golden bangles to play Mary Magdalene in our church’s Lenten Passion Play, circa 1990. Per ancient Christian tradition, the script conflated her with the sinful woman of the city from the gospel of Luke (7:36-50). I still can recite her opening lines, written as poetry by one of our Sunday School teachers: Sick with deep shame I sorrowfully come... Read more

Dark Devotional: Worthy

My first memory is of flushing my father’s drugs down the toilet. I was 3, and he and my mother were fighting. Again. About his drug use. Again. My mother found some stash or other, and sent me to flush them. I did. By the time I was 5, my parents had already separated and reunited several times and were finally separated for good. I had been in a major car accident–my father was driving, high. I was a confused little... Read more

Approaching Mystery: Timekeeping

Some of the most interesting writing happening today exists in the liminal space between genres—micro-memoir, prose poem, lyrical essay. Poet and essayist Joanna Penn Cooper recently taught an online course based on the potential these “in-between” genres have to explore mystery–one of our favorite topics at Sick Pilgrim. The course was called “Approaching Mystery: Writing Vignettes about Mystery and the Unexplained,” and we liked the idea so much that we’ve partnered with Joanna to offer a new feature on Sick Pilgrim... Read more