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...]

To Bill Nye, Fellow Ataxian

...while Nye dreams of outer space, it's his own DNA that worries him."My family has an affliction called ataxia," he said. "My sister has it real bad. You walk like you're drunk. And my sister has a walker. That's how she goes everywhere. And apparently it's not a strength thing. It has to do with your balance, which comes from your cerebellum.""But you don't have symptoms of this?""Yeah, I do. Two years ago I noticed it.""For someone who sees this from a scientific viewpoint is … [Read more...]

Dark Devotional: We must be crazy

Mark 3:21: For they said: He is become mad.He was crowded by so many people that he couldn't even eat, Jesus was. And so were those who followed and served him faithfully. And his family, not so much the ones who loved him best or knew him best, but the ones who thought themselves most qualified to judge, decided that he must be crazy.The leap is large and confusing to me at first, until I remember back a couple of weeks ago.After a total emotional collapse, I was resting and … [Read more...]

The Wonder Podcast Episode I: Death in the Grand Canyon

 We've been talking about it for months. But, finally, here it is, the first episode of the Wonder podcast. You can download it on iTunes, Google Play or Podbean. If you like what you hear, please review it on iTunes--it really helps to get the word out--and consider supporting us as a "Friend of the Show" so we can make more Wonder.Episode 1: Death in the Grand CanyonEver been to “that place?” You know the one I’m talking about. Your skin tingles. Your breath catches. Maybe you … [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...]

Raising my son in an age of gun worship and racial violence

There are summer days in Northwest Michigan when the temperature hovers at 80 degrees, a soft breeze blows in off the lake, and the sky is an impossible Marian blue. On these days, it is easy to believe that this near-perfect weather is mother nature’s make-up gift for the nearly eight months of snow and ice we must endure.We live only thirty minutes south of the 45th parallel, that invisible line that marks the halfway point between the North Pole and the Equator, a place on the globe so n … [Read more...]

Mud Wrestling with Angels Unawares: When Catholic Art is Dark (Or Ugly)

As a Catholic poet, I was excited to read this article about why the Catholic Church desperately needs artists, and was particularly taken with Pope Saint John Paul II’s reference to art as an evocation of our “nostalgia for God.” But as I kept reading, I felt something was missing, and this something was the question of what to do when art is dark.It's great to talk about the role of beauty in our communication and evangelism as a church. This has been important for centuries. But I can't he … [Read more...]

Sick Pilgrim at the Ministry Fair

One of our priests gave a rousing homily on the Prodigal Son on Sunday. Priests love to preach on this one, he said--you got your prodigal son, your pharisaical son, your all-forgiving father--there's so much to work with! But then he remembered this weekend was the parish ministry fair.*Sad trombone*How to tie these two together?The ministry fair is the day you're supposed to sign up to contribute your time to your parish through acts of service--lectoring, cantoring, ushering, fe … [Read more...]

A Back to School Prayer for the Weirdos (and their weirdo parents)

I wrote this essay six years ago, before my daughter was diagnosed with autism and my google searches for "toddler anxiety" and "what am I doing wrong as a mother" came to an end (mostly). But as I prepare to launch my ten-year-old into a new school for fifth grade, I dug it out of the archives because it still gets to the heart of my contortions of fear and worry and guilt and pride for my children. I was also inspired by this heart-string-tugging story making the rounds today.Pray with me, … [Read more...]

Being Catholic, Being Cajun: Catholic Identity and its Discontents

The calamity in my neck of the woods, Southern Louisiana, is pervasive. My entire community has been affected, and so have I. The heart-breaking destruction, alongside the strength of character drawn out by the recent floods, has left me reeling.In times like this, I find myself questioning the fundamentals of my identity. If I call myself a Catholic, what do I mean? And why does being Cajun matter?The truth is, I've never felt like an insider, even within these two huge pillars of my i … [Read more...]