The Theology of Suffering Questions the Benedict Option

Allow me to tell you a story. A few years ago, I went through the worst period of my life so far, a time of personal suffering that I pray to God I never will have to through again. A painful divorce resulted in a move away from my children so that I could get a job that would cover their insurance. I gave up friends and a sixteen year career as a Presbyterian minister to enter the Catholic Church.Needless to say, I didn't enter the church with a shout of triumph, profound theological … [Read more...]

13 Reasons Why: Netflix Invites us to Spiritual Works of Mercy For Holy Week

(Two alerts. This review talks about rape, bullying and suicide. It also contains a lot of spoilers for the TV show and book, 13 Reasons Why.)One of the terrible beauties of Holy Week is an invitation to not only enter the sufferings of Christ, but through our union with Him, be united with others in their suffering. This is not something we do willingly or embrace gladly. And, there are many areas of suffering we don't wish to enter into or even consider.Suicide is one of those topics. … [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...]

For the People Who Cry During Holy Week

On Palm Sunday, we process into church waving blessed fronds. The priest walks amongst us, bearing the crucifix. We're recreating a scene that has the power of a cruel joke: Our Lord, greatly feted by his people, riding to his kingship on a borrowed ass. And Jesus knows, as we know, waving our palms like spears, that this kingship means torture and death. The victory march is a death march, victory and death braided as intricately as the little girl next to me braids her fronds to pass the time. … [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...]

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...]

Destruction As Grace – Dark Devotional

I stared up at the Basilica in hate. I hated them. Every single one of them. I did.Yet more than anything I hated the Church in general. The Catholic Church.I held the Catechism of the Catholic Church deep gripped in my sweaty teenage hand. I stared up at the peak of the tower. It hailed over me in unapologetic grace. Unaware of me. Uncaring. I stared at the towering mural of Jesus and the Virgen de San Juan del Valle. It stared back at me. Yet saw nothing.I watched all the crusty … [Read more...]