Trying to Say God: An Address to the Artists

 The following was delivered as a plenary address by Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, Texas, at the inaugural TRYING TO SAY GOD conference at the University of Notre Dame, 22 June, 2017.  THE POVERTY OF THE WORDThe WORD is our most constant and mysterious companion. In some way we come together during these days to celebrate the poverty of the WORD. And this in two principle senses. We rejoice in the poverty assumed by the WORD when he took flesh, and secondly we celebrate th … [Read more...]

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...]

Things Keeping Us Alive, June ’17

When I was young, summertime meant joy. And it mostly still does - the long days, the eagerness to be outside, even the suffocating heat of South Louisiana recalls days of summer break for school, freedom unlike anything else in my school-aged mind. But getting older means that freedom isn't as carefree as it once was.Maybe it's empathy that lessens the unbridled happiness. I know people are struggling right now. So summer's not as insular, not as huge a vacation for me anymore. And that is … [Read more...]

Séance with the Freudenabteilung (or, Communing with Dead Nazi Sex Slaves): Listening to Joy Division as Religious Experience

 “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” – Neitszche  When you struggle with depression, it’s tempting to juxtapose your own horror stories with the real horror stories of history in an attempt to gain a more sober perspective. But these efforts usually backfire and cause even more despair. Pilgrims must be on guard for the monsters they will enco … [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...]

Pest’s Letters: To My Friend Who Died of an Overdose

Dear B,They found your body on the floor of your house last week. I don’t know any details, but the cause was an overdose...surprising few if any.You were my best friend in high school. We’d complement each other using quotes from Friends (especially from Phoebe), our shared love of movies and deep conversations, and our strange crush on Joan of Arcadia. Our friendship in high school was not  predictable - you were a few years older than me and known as partier, while I was a geeky guy kn … [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...]