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...]

Looking Past the Miracle: The Poetry of Mary Szybist

I first heard Mary Szybist’s poems about 13 years ago in a St. Louis reading series. The illustrious restaurant/bar that hosted the series was dimly lit that night, save for strings of small white lights around the picture window to the street. The lighting created a large halo behind the readers—Szybist, a professor at Lewis & Clark College, and her husband, Jerry Harp. Szybist’s poems like “Via Negativa” enthralled me: Sometimes it’s too hard with words or dark or silence.Tonight I wan … [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...]

That viral video of the interrupted professor? I don’t think it’s funny.

It crowded my newsfeed on Friday, accompanied by many “LOLs” and my favorite “laughing to the point of tears” emoji.Robert E. Kelly, a political science professor based in South Korea, was being interviewed live on BBC from his home office when his toddler opened the door and bounded in, followed by a baby sibling in a walker.The professor reaches back with one arm and attempts to push the toddler away, while continuing to look into the camera and attempts to answer the questio … [Read more...]

It Didn’t Count: Sexual Assault and Virginity

“An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach.” 1 Timothy 3:2“Deacons must be husbands of only one wife.” 1 Timothy 3:12When I was 17 years old, I was sexually assaulted by a classmate. It was my first sexual experience, and it changed the course of my life. In addition to the psychological damage, I had to reckon with what my status as an assault victim meant in the context of a Christian campus ministry … [Read more...]

Dark Devotional: How Do I Get to the Desert?

I learned I had no discipline or willpower at age nine when my fourth grade religion teacher had us write down in our composition notebooks what we would be giving up for Lent. That was a real head-scratcher; any child would’ve had a hard time having a “vice” in my household. My brother and I had everything we needed, and most of what we wanted, but unlike many of my friends, we didn’t have video-game systems that we played into the wee hours. My mother didn’t keep candy in the house (well, I lea … [Read more...]

Beyonce and the Black Madonna

 A few thoughts on Beyonce's pregnant body:It is breathtakingly beautiful.It is unashamedly sensual.And it is holy.Full stop.No qualifiers.Watching Beyonce's Grammy performance, I nearly wept. We've seen stylized photos of pregnant celebrities before--they're hardly controversial at this point. But I can't remember seeing a pregnant woman on stage at a mainstream cultural event, doing her thing--being an artist, interpreting, performing, working--instead of … [Read more...]

Dark Devotional: Blessed are the Poor in Spirit

5 When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the [a]mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. 2 He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying,3 “[b]Blessed are the [c]poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.5 “Blessed are the [d]gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.7 “Blessed are the merciful … [Read more...]

Mary Karr: Trying to Say God

This post begins 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."Talking about spiritual activity to a secular audience is like doing card tricks on the radio," Mary Karr, bestselling author of and "unlikely" Catholic convert, told Terry Gross. I remember hearing Karr on Fresh Air as I pulled into the parking lot of my desk job after a miserably cold and g … [Read more...]

What it Means to be a Catholic Woman in Trump’s America

2016 was the year of my disillusionment.The election of Donald Trump seemed like a very laughable bad dream, like being in middle school when we used to devise masked ways to cuss (“Twat, did you say? I cunt hear you!”), only in Trump’s case, he really did say it, he most likely did it, and, my gosh, the Middle School just elected him president.And this was the candidate that I, as a Catholic woman who supports the protection of life from conception to natural death, was expected to line … [Read more...]