St. Joseph’s Altar: The Lenten Feast?

Every year in my school, the classes would take a bus to a nearby banquet hall in our town of Opelousas, where we’d be able to eat some of the great food prepared for the St. Joseph’s Altar, a practice especially popular in Catholic southern Louisiana. That “altar” was really just a few tables adorned with flowers, breads, desserts, and meatless meals to commemorate the Solemnity of St. Joseph.Since the Solemnity falls during Lent most years and is not technically a Feast Day, the rules of th … [Read more...]

Introducing Brian Jocks, Sick Pilgrim’s Illustrator

Louisiana artist Brian Jocks will be contributing original illustrations to the Dark Devotional, Sick Pilgrim's weekly meditations on the Mass readings.Sick Pilgrim ("a decidedly dark and offbeat, yet stubbornly hopeful blog founded by misfit Catholic writers") is meant to be a platform for artists. As a blog, most of the artists we've gathered are writers, and we’ve been excited to feature so many (with more than 60 guest posts in our first year online), each with a unique voi … [Read more...]

Destruction As Grace – Dark Devotional

I stared up at the Basilica in hate. I hated them. Every single one of them. I did.Yet more than anything I hated the Church in general. The Catholic Church.I held the Catechism of the Catholic Church deep gripped in my sweaty teenage hand. I stared up at the peak of the tower. It hailed over me in unapologetic grace. Unaware of me. Uncaring. I stared at the towering mural of Jesus and the Virgen de San Juan del Valle. It stared back at me. Yet saw nothing.I watched all the crusty … [Read more...]

Trying to Say God (as artists)

A few years ago, Kaya Oakes wrote in America Magazine that "Catholic literary culture today might best described as a funeral for multiple corpses. This, for living Catholic writers, makes for a rather depressing set of circumstances to enter into."Soon after, I went to the Future of The Catholic Imagination conference at USC and saw this funeral on full display.What depressed me most was that no one ever really defined a Catholic artistic imagination, how it gets formed, and what we can … [Read more...]

Burn the Catholic Witches! (Like Me)

I've been doing some research on American saints and martyrs. A few of these stories seem to be ripped from a modern horror novel. For example, there are the five North American martyrs who underwent burning, flaying, and beatings. But one particular martyr caught my eye in Brian O'Neel's book, 150 North American Martyrs You Should Know. Why? Because the martyrdom took place just before one of the most infamous events in American History: the Salem Witch hysteria. And this martyrdom is … [Read more...]

We’re All Catfishers….

My heart broke when I read Chase Padusniak's catfishing post  and his story of being taken in by someone passing herself off as a 23-year-old single woman under the Twitter handle "That Catholic Girl." He gave his heart to her, and it got stomped on by a woman who is actually 30 and married.Of course, those of us who read his story were appalled. We should be. But if we practice self-reflection, we will see how much we are like this woman.  We wear masks for people and lead them away from our … [Read more...]

Dark Devotional: I Don’t Believe in the Fatherhood of God, do you?

  When it comes to the story of the Prodigal Son, it's hard to come up with a new angle. It's been done. The story has been dissected over and over again. Is there anything new that we can learn from it?The popular picture of Jesus' parable is about the wayward son who sins like a Catholic at Mardi Gras and then gets forgiven by the father. That's a great story, but it's not really the point of the tale. If you go a little deeper, you see that just as much time is spent … [Read more...]

3 Things That Every Convert/Revert Wants Cradles to Know (No, This Ain’t a Cosmo Article)

Since I work in the Disneyland for Catholics (Notre Dame), I see all kinds of different Catholics around campus or attending school. I see people who've grown up knowing they would go to Notre Dame. I've noticed people who just come to Notre Dame to bask in the light of the dome. The diversity is mind-blowing and I truly love it.I've been a "revert" for two and half years. Never once have I regretted leaving behind a sixteen year ministry career and entering the Catholic Church. I'm at home … [Read more...]

The Tradition of the Catholic Ghost Story: Call for Submissions!

 Last year, Ave Maria Press (my place of gainful employment) celebrated 150 years of existence as a Catholic publisher. We started off as a magazine, founded by Father Sorin, the same guy who founded a small but scrappy school now known as the University of Notre Dame.The editorial department was assigned to comb through the archives of the magazine to find interesting historical stories or tidbits. As I read through the decade of the 1920's, I was struck by how many stories of the … [Read more...]

Confession: Is it Really Good for the Soul? Or is that just BS?

 A few weeks ago, I attended the Applied Biblical Studies Conference at Franciscan University in Steubenville.  My gainful place of employment (Ave Maria Press) sent me to investigate possible new authors for our house. But I was glad for the chance to go. As a former Presbyterian minister, I spent most of my life obsessed with the Bible and studying every jot and tittle, as the saying goes. I thought it would be interesting to see the Bible from the eyes of Catholic Bible … [Read more...]