Dark Devotional: Lazarus

 My uncle died a few weeks before Easter last year, an uncle who lived a complicated life wrought with struggle and isolating mental illness. Given the difficult task of planning a way to commemorate his life, my mom called to ask me if I would be the one to officiate the services. Not only had I not spoken to my uncle in about two decades, but he was a paranoid alcoholic, an angry recluse who was estranged from his family. Officiate his funeral?! To say what exactly? His life seemed … [Read more...]

Dark Devotional: Faith and Doubt in the Labyrinth

I am easily led to anxiety in unfamiliar situations. I don’t like to do things with other people, and though I recognize the necessity in community, I’d almost always prefer to go about my day on my own, for comfort's sake. Like most of us, I like certainty. Like most of us, I realize life isn’t very certain.While walking a labyrinth with a group of friends last week, I was brought to a place of holding this uncertainty in a new way. In our preparation to walk, we reminded one another that th … [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...]

Holy Crap! A Bad Gift Guide for Catholics

It's Advent season, which means you're probably scrambling around trying to find a white elephant Christmas gift for that office party no one really wants to attend. Have you ever thought "I wish I could give a gift that would offend just about everyone while making sure no one asks me to do this stupid tradition ever again?" If so, I have the list for you. Guardian Angel BearsWhat happens when you take the cuddly teddy bear and combine them with some of the most powerful … [Read more...]

Advent: A Brief History of Time

The first Sunday of Advent begins the Catholic Church's New Year, and in his homily, our priest took the chance to reminded us that here, in the Church, time works differently.Secular time is a straight line, stretching out ahead indefinitely. I picture the diagram of "the flea and the acrobat" that the science teacher in Stranger Things draws on a paper plate to illustrate how one might exist in an alternate dimension. In fact, I draw it on my song sheet, a straight line and a stick figure, … [Read more...]

“Thanks” Keeping Us Alive – November

This month...this year...has been a trying time for many of us us. And we at Sick Pilgrim are well-acquainted with shadows and loss.Yet, we are not a people of despair. Sick Pilgrim knows the reality of struggling against the dark - and we are not afraid to tackle despair, loneliness, brokenness, anger. We do so because these are realities of life too often brushed under the rug.But we are people of hope. Sometimes we need a nudge to remind ourselves; sometimes we are in danger of being … [Read more...]

A Protestant Sermon On Purgatory

The most powerful sermon on Purgatory I ever heard came from the pulpit of a Southern Baptist church.Of course, Southern Baptists would vehemently deny this. “Purgatory” seems a made-up barrier Catholics teach to lessen our reliance on divine Love.The young speaker took to the podium like Augustus Gloop to chocolate. Any hint of anxiety when speaking to the flock of over 100 believers was either nonexistent or ironed and starched away like his pleated pants and crisp collared shi … [Read more...]

Hillary and Trump Are Not Us: Baseball is.

So, full disclosure. I'm a Cardinal fan. A serious, committed, Cardinal fan. Since the age of five, I listened to Jack Buck call the games while in my bed, sweating from the heat of my stifling old farmhouse in Southern Indiana.And, I'm a baseball fan. My childhood memories are full of my grandfather's baseball card shop, walking to the corner drug store in my small town to get baseball cards with the money I dug out of the couch, and my trips to the Triple A team of the Detroit Tigers in … [Read more...]

Bring Your Cat to Church: It’s the Feast of St. Francis

I’d wanted to purchase a little sailor suit for him to wear to church, because unlike most cats, mine is relaxed enough to be carried around in my arms. In the car, through crowds, among dogs, he lounges with perfect equanimity. He has rarely transformed himself into a furious, scowling, arching puffball. He is happiest perched upon a shoulder, rubbing his face insistently against a human chin and cheek, poking his nose into a human ear. With some pride I noted that he was the only cat in church … [Read more...]