Mary Magdalene, Wonder Woman, and Me

In honor of the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, July 22I 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 / offering tears and repentance of soul / s … [Read more...]

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...]

That Old Catholic Magic: Jacob Popcak Explains St. Patrick’s Day to Sick Pilgrim

We invited some Sick Pilgrims over to talk about one of our favorite saints, St Patrick, in honor of his feast day this Friday, March 17. And then Jacob Popcak took us all to school.First things first. St. Patrick wasn't Irish.Jacob Popcak: Patrick was a slave of the Irish, who escaped, became a priest, and came back to convert his captors. He loved them. Which is ... insane, from a modern perspective.David Russell Mosley: He wasn't "Celtic," or at least not Irish.Jonathan Ryan: H … [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...]

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...]

Feast of St. Nicholas: Slap a Heretic Day. Or Why Are We Hitting Ourselves?

Tuesday is the feast day of St. Nicholas and as usual, the story of him slapping Arius in the face during the Council of Nicea is making the rounds on social media. To be honest, I used to think the story was funny and I applauded the spirit. That is, get so passionate about truth that you end up punching someone in the mouth over it.In my Mark Driscoll Presbyterian Minister Days, I engaged in many passionate and useless theological debates with people who disagreed with me. As a staunch … [Read more...]

10 Relics That Prove Catholics Have No Chill About the Communion of Saints

We're celebrating community here at Sick Pilgrim this month, based on the fact that we kick off the month of November by remembering the saints and the souls that make up the great cloud of witnesses who surround us from behind the veil.As a human person living on this side of heaven, I admit that I have a uniquely--okay, maybe you could even say oddly--Catholic sentiment about keeping saints as friends. I mean, quite honestly, I find them easier to maintain a relationship with than the … [Read more...]

The Dead Don’t Marry

“The children of this age marry and remarry; but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise. That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called out ‘Lord,’ the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he is not God o … [Read more...]

Making Contact: From the Ouija Board to the Catholic Church

 In October we called for spooky stories from all our friends who follow the blog, and my friend Joanna told me some unnerving tales of her experiences with a Ouija board: I am a freshman in college home for fall or winter break. The board is still at my house, and I’ve decided to play with it by myself. I soon find that it does indeed seem to be pulling toward different letters. I contact an older male family friend, a grandfather figure, who died when I was in fourth grade, and the pl … [Read more...]

The Crucifixion Made Halloween Possible

The recent death of Jack Chick made me think about my own personal history with Halloween. For awhile, we celebrated the holiday like any normal Catholic family. The last year I remember dressing up, I wore a Yoda costume because of my deep abiding love for Star Wars.But, as my parents got deeper into the Charismatic movement, they stopped letting my sister and me celebrate Halloween. I don't blame them, as they got bombarded with all the supposed evils of the holiday. Not only did they have … [Read more...]