Merci! À bientôt!

Tom Sawyer - fence

Tom appeared on the sidewalk with a bucket of whitewash and a long-handled brush.  He surveyed the fence, and all gladness left him and a deep melancholy settled down upon his spirit.  Thirty yards of board fence nine feet high. Life to him seemed hollow, and existence but a burden. --Mark Twain, writing in Tom Sawyer, 1876OK, folks, replace the name “Tom” with “Elizabeth.”Got it?  Good—Now get rid of the long-handled brush and the fence.  Instead, set the protagonist in front of a keyb … [Read more...]

C. S. Lewis: Finding Faith On the Way to the Zoo

C. S. Lewis

Men Must Endure Their Going Hence.So warns Edgar in Shakespeare’s classic King Lear.And so says the tombstone shared by illustrious Christian apologist Clive Staples Lewis and his brother Warren.  The tombstone, located in the yard of Holy Trinity Church in Headington Quarry, Oxford, commemorates the writer C.S. “Jack” Lewis, who died 48 years ago on November 23, 1963, and his quieter older brother who died in April 1973.Lewis was one of the intellectual giants of the 20th century, co … [Read more...]

St. Peter’s Basilica in a Snowstorm!

Snowfall in St. Peter's Square

I have always heard that Winter is the rainy season in Rome.  This week, though, a surprise snowfall! The children of Rome can have a little fun catching snowflakes on their tongues.The snow started falling  heavily in St. Peter's Square Friday afternoon.  The last time the city saw snow was back in 2009.And look at this beautiful scene at St. Peter's Basilica!  … [Read more...]

You Say “Tomato,” I Say “To-MAH-to”: St. Blase and the Holy Helpers

St. Blase

OK, so Father Longenecker—This week I wrote about St. Blase, and you followed up with a great post on St. Blaise.Nonplussed, I went directly to Spell-Check, I did not pass Go, and I confirmed that We Are Both Right. The saint whose feast day we celebrated today answers us, whichever spelling we prefer.I am not defensive or spiteful or OCD or anything like that, but I did happen to notice that the following websites all spell the name as I did: Blase. • EWTN • Holy Spirit Inter … [Read more...]

PEEK-A-BOO! God and the Bornean Rainbow Toad

Bornean Rain Toad

Wrap your mind around this (can you see it?). It’s a Bornean Rainbow Toad.God, in His infinite wisdom and creativity, designed a panoply of creatures so diverse, so fantastic, so colorful, so… well, so HUNGRY.And because no one—not even a lowly amphibian—likes to be someone else’s lunch, God thought up a bunch of cool ways to hide. It’s called “cryptic camouflage” and it allows a toad or a moth or a caterpillar to blend into the environment so well that a hawk or a sand crane is unlike … [Read more...]

CAN AN AGNOSTIC BE DIVINELY INSPIRED? “Babette’s Feast” Is a Eucharistic Allegory From an Unlikely Author

You probably know at least a little about Danish baroness and plantation owner Karen von Blixen-Finecke. She was the heroine (Meryl Streep) who had a passionate but ultimately doomed love affair with a free-spirited big-game hunter (Robert Redford) in the 1985 romantic drama Out of Africa. She was an author who wrote under the pen name “Isak Denisen.”But you may not remember that she was an agnostic.My husband and I recently pulled out our copy of the film Babette’s Feast (Danish: Babet … [Read more...]

For Black History Month: Sojourner Truth and the Liberation of America’s Smallest Women

Sojourner_Truth 2

On March 8, 2011, feminists observed the centenary of International Women’s Day—a day when we remember the struggles of women in the fight against gender discrimination, and celebrate the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.I would like to dedicate this post to the smallest of women: those who have not yet seen the light of day, but for whom Jesus also died.  These smallest women, still unborn, have been generated in the heart of God, and have been a … [Read more...]

ST. BLASE: Patron of Throat Illnesses

St Blase

Through the intercession of Saint Blase, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every disease of the throat and from every other illness:  In the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. — From the blessing of throats on the Feast of St. Blase, February 3*    *     *     *     * It’s great to be Catholic—We have so many cherished friends crowding around the throne of God!Like our earthly friends who are just a phone call away, the saints—those in the C … [Read more...]

For Mothers Everywhere: On Scrubbing Toilets and the Challenger Disaster

Space Shuttle Challenger

Twenty-six years ago, on January 28, 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, disintegrating over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of central Florida.  All seven of its crew were killed, including the “Teacher in Space,” Christa McAuliffe.Remembering this sad anniversary, it’s not space flight I want to talk about, though.  I want to talk about jealousy, and about the seasons of life.When the Challenger exploded, I had three young children at home.  To su … [Read more...]

FOXES AND CHICKEN COOPS: Bioethicists Push Limits on Organ Donation


“Killing a human being is like pulling weeds in a garden.” So claims an article in the most recent issue of the Journal of Medical Ethics, published on-line on January 19, 2012.  The article titled “What Makes Killing Wrong?” is co-authored by Duke University professor of practical ethics Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and NIH senior bioethicist Franklin G. Miller.   They contend that “…what makes the act of killing morally wrong is not that the act causes loss of life or consciousness but rather … [Read more...]