St. Joseph’s Altar: The Lenten Feast?

Every year in my school, the classes would take a bus to a nearby banquet hall in our town of Opelousas, where we’d be able to eat some of the great food prepared for the St. Joseph’s Altar, a practice especially popular in Catholic southern Louisiana. That “altar” was really just a few tables adorned with flowers, breads, desserts, and meatless meals to commemorate the Solemnity of St. Joseph.Since the Solemnity falls during Lent most years and is not technically a Feast Day, the rules of th … [Read more...]

Dark Devotional: To Die for an Ungodly Neighbor

For Christ, while we were still helpless, died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us, in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.In the aftermath of the presidential election, I've seen many Catholic bloggers and Facebook-ers address the question of "martyrdom." The discussion is focused on the housing and … [Read more...]

Road Trip Homilies: Wounded Knee and the Snake Givers

As I walked along a sandy path in Badlands National Park, I noticed a sign warning me to "Beware of Rattlesnakes." The wind stinging my cheeks reminded that even if the snakes decided to brave the cold, they'd be sluggish and unlikely to bite.  Still, as I walked, I listened for the tell tale "rattttttttttetattatt" and prepared myself to leap out of the way.For some reason, I couldn't get snakes out of my mind as I drove to the Pine Ridge Reservation located south of Badlands. I'd taken this … [Read more...]

Why Are We So Afraid of Mercy and Our Own Heretical Little Hearts?

As I sort through the events of the past few months, I've tried to figure out what bothers me the most about the Trump presidency and what it's revealed about Catholics and Christians in America. Every time I think I've pinpointed the problem, it vanishes into the air. Sure, I'm bothered by the misogyny, the myopic views of pro-birthers, and the barely disguised hatred of Muslims. But, every time I pick up my computer to write about these things, something stops me, prompting me to go … [Read more...]

To Bill Nye, Fellow Ataxian

...while Nye dreams of outer space, it's his own DNA that worries him."My family has an affliction called ataxia," he said. "My sister has it real bad. You walk like you're drunk. And my sister has a walker. That's how she goes everywhere. And apparently it's not a strength thing. It has to do with your balance, which comes from your cerebellum.""But you don't have symptoms of this?""Yeah, I do. Two years ago I noticed it.""For someone who sees this from a scientific viewpoint is … [Read more...]

Are You a Child of Thunder? Or a Vigilante of Love?

  On the first Sunday of the year, my priest printed out slips of paper with saints' names on them. He told us to choose one out of a basket after mass. Whomever we got, he assured us, would pray for us and be our patron for that year.It seemed like a good idea. But knowing the way God usually deals with me, some obscure saint I never heard of would probably pick me and I would have to really dig to understand the reasons why.So, after I mass, I pulled out the … [Read more...]

Tim Powers: Trying to Say God

*This is the second post in our series of features on the writers, musicians and artists who will be speaking and performing at the Trying to Say God Conference, June 22-24 at the University of Notre Dame. One of the reasons that Catholic literary culture has become,  in the words of Kaya Oakes, a "funeral for multiple corpses," is that genre fiction, specifically science fiction, fantasy, and weird fiction, are often left out in the cold when these sorts of discussions take place. This gl … [Read more...]

Screwtape Does America

 (At four o'clock this morning, I (Jonathan) woke up and thought about the events about the past few days. They've been weighing heavily on my head and my heart. For some reason, I thought about my favorite book of spirituality, The Screwtape Letters by. C.S. Lewis.For those not familiar with the book, Lewis uses the character of a senior devil writing advice to his "nephew." So, I tried to process everything I've been thinking the past few days by writing my own "Screwtape … [Read more...]

St. Francis de Sales and the Artist-Theologian

Before I was confirmed in the Catholic Church three years ago, I had to choose the name of a saint as my "new" name. It's not just for popes, after all.  The reason for picking a "patron saint" is that this person is to be our guardian throughout the rest of our lives by interceding for us in heaven. And usually, it is someone whose story we identify with in some way.Peter seemed like an obvious choice, because I've always loved and identified with the apostle who has a bit of a passionate … [Read more...]