Dark Devotional: The Mystery of Persecution

  But the LORD is with me, like a mighty champion: my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph. In their failure they will be put to utter shame, to lasting, unforgettable confusion. (Jeremiah) One thing I learned while studying for my PhD was to distinguish the persecution from suffering. The two issues are interconnected, but while the problem of suffering affects all--both the righteous and the innocent--persecution strikes the righteous because they are … [Read more...]

Trapped in the Nightmare: A Bloomsday Dark Devotional

June 16 is Bloomsday -- a special day for Irish literary geeks, on which fans of James Joyce’s Ulysses gather in Dublin to retrace the steps--and drink the drinks--of the novel’s hero, Leopold Bloom, who both starts and finishes his surreal Odyssean journey in his wife’s bed. Ulysses, with its ring-like structure and themes of transformation, is a story for moderns trapped within the cyclical “nightmare” of history, from which the only escape is a kind of mythic re-imagining of every … [Read more...]

Dark Devotional: Frankenstein and the Most Holy Trinity

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.--St. Paul   "I am alone, and miserable; man will not associate with me; but one as deformed and horrible as myself would not deny herself to me. My companion must be of the same species, and have the same defects. This being you must create.” –Frankenstein’s monster  It was Christmas in Guatemala. My fiancé and I were waiting for a small tour bus to pick us up an … [Read more...]

Dark Devotional: Speak My Language

I don’t sound very Christian.That’s what I was told after I proudly mentioned to my neighbor, a white haired and thoroughly religious grandmother-type, to check out the blog I sometimes wrote for, Sick Pilgrim. A couple of days later, she got back to me with that assessment. And she didn’t mean it as an insult, just a blunt and honest statement from a very kind lady who respects and looks up to me very much. So when she said I didn’t sound very Christian in my writing, she only meant to help … [Read more...]

Dark Devotional: Go and Make a Mess of Things

Raised in a Catholic lay missionary family, dedicated to proclaiming the Gospel--the Good News of God’s love--all over the world, I've long been a big fan of Jesus’ mandate in Matthew 28, “Go and make disciples of all nations.” I've seen with my own eyes time and time again the desperate desire, especially in the poor and forgotten of the world, to know the boundless love and forgiveness offered to them by Jesus, to know their infinite worth.As I reread the Gospel today, however, something el … [Read more...]

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...]

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...]

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...]