Dark Devotional: Don’t Lay Your Hands on Me

“Philip went down to the city of Samariaand proclaimed the Christ to them.With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philipwhen they heard it and saw the signs he was doing.For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice,came out of many possessed people,and many paralyzed or crippled people were cured.There was great joy in that city. Now when the apostles in Jerusalemheard that Samaria had accepted the word of God,they sent t … [Read more...]

Looking Past the Miracle: The Poetry of Mary Szybist

I first heard Mary Szybist’s poems about 13 years ago in a St. Louis reading series. The illustrious restaurant/bar that hosted the series was dimly lit that night, save for strings of small white lights around the picture window to the street. The lighting created a large halo behind the readers—Szybist, a professor at Lewis & Clark College, and her husband, Jerry Harp. Szybist’s poems like “Via Negativa” enthralled me: Sometimes it’s too hard with words or dark or silence.Tonight I wan … [Read more...]

Dark Devotional: Three Ways to Survive the Mother’s Day Homily

Dear Catholic Women, If none of your children have any embarrassing quirks, or if your children are all under the age of 12 and haven’t made choices that cause you to want to crawl under the pew, then feel free to move on.  Enjoy the homily, enjoy the blessing your priest bestows on all the women in the parish and the flower they give you on the way out. But if you have teens and young adults learning their way in the world, if you have a child on the spectrum who struggles in the pews, if you … [Read more...]

I Walked into Suffering on the Road to Santiago

“For as long as humans have walked, they have walked to get closer to their gods." The words appear on top of a PBS website in white upon a black background—an over-simplified truth, smacking with arrogant certitude. At least that’s the way it feels to me when I stare at the screen just a few days after returning from pilgrimage on El Camino de Santiago, the Way of St. James, in Northern Spain.“For as long as humans have walked, they have walked to get closer to their gods.” The phrase rolls … [Read more...]

Dark Devotional: Fulton Sheen at Heaven’s Gate

I had walked since dawn and lay down to rest on a bare hillside Above the ocean. I saw through half-shut eyelids a vulture wheeling high up in heaven, And presently it passed again, but lower and nearer, its orbit narrowing, I understood then That I was under inspection. I lay death-still and heard the flight- feathers Whistle above me and make their circle and come nearer. I could see the naked red head between the great wings bear downward staring. I said, "My dear bird, we are wasting … [Read more...]

Dark Devotional: About All the Things

Ostensibly, I created all my social media accounts to keep in touch with friends and family.  Increasingly, however, platforms that were once about sharing pictures and keeping in touch are also the means by which I receive wave after wave of bad news. I’ve digitally surrounded myself with the socially concerned, and the world is a mess.In our gospel reading this Sunday, we find two disciples whose situation seems similar. “That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus' disciples w … [Read more...]

Dark Devotional: Pardoning Thomas

I was hospitalized twice for a total of 28 days in a period of 38 days for bipolar depression. When I reveal this, Christians tend to give me one of two responses: “Oh, that’s great!” What the hell? Oh, yeah, I forgot; how good of God to direct me to a safe place in his care. How careless of me to not think of that. Or a look of sympathy. Great. You’ll probably pray for me, too. Thanks.When I was in the hospital, I had one openly Christian nurse. But the nurses are the only reason I am able t … [Read more...]

Lower than Death: An Easter Dark Devotional

 “Did You ever know loneliness, did You ever know need? Do You remember just how long a night can get? When You were barely holding on and Your friends fall asleep And don't see the blood that's running in Your sweat Will those who mourn be left uncomforted While You're up there just playing hard to get?”      - from “Hard to Get” by Rich Mullins I wish it were only a sick pilgrim thing, trying to find the object of dark devotion on the happiest day of the liturgical calendar, mil … [Read more...]

Stations of the Cross: A Spectator to the Execution

You have my whole heart. You always did. —Cormac McCarthy, The Road  Imagine for a moment the greatest love of your life. Your beloved. This person is the center of your existence, a person who makes you feel truly alive. Before you met your beloved, you were anxious, distracted, frail, broken. But now in your emerging love, you feel strong. You feel alive. You don’t know what you were experiencing before, but it wasn’t this. This person has helped you understand your past, and you … [Read more...]

RIP Rich Mullins: Palm Sunday Dark Devotional

"You had no stones to throw You came without an ax to grind You did not tow the party line No wonder sight came to the blind You had no stones to throwYou rode an ass's foal They spread their coats and cut down palms For You and Your donkey to walk upon But the world won't find what it thinks it wants On the back of an ass's foal So I guess You had to get sold'Cause the world can't stand what it cannot own And it can't own You 'cause You did not have a home.Birds have … [Read more...]