Craving Silence to Hear: Atchison Blue

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If I am late coming to a review of Judith Valente's new book -- which is currently being featured in the Patheos Book Club, it is only because the pope keeps all of us very busy these days, and Atchison Blue: A Search for Silence, a Spiritual Home and a Living Faith is too good for a slap-dash mention. After reading, it needed time for absorption, and even some revisits, to do it justice.People are fast to make comparisons between Atchison Blue and Kathleen Norris' beloved modern classic, … [Read more...]

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Remarks to Catholic Marketers, Shop Owners

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A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet and talk with members of the Catholic Marketing Network at their annual conference and trade show. The show is always delightful -- walking amidst a convention hall of Catholic wares, tsotskies and books is my idea of a very good time, indeed, and of course, I also got to photobomb the pope!And of course, there was the wine-and-cheese book-signing sponsored by Ave Maria Press, which was great fun and looked like this:The conference … [Read more...]

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Could “Mystery Priest” be a long-dead Benedictine Monk? UPDATE: No Mystery Here!

Joel Schmidt thinks perhaps yes:By now, you’ve most likely heard the story of the “Mystery Priest” from the car accident scene in Eastern Missouri. If not, here’s the original story from USA Today.Phil Lawler of Catholic Culture has suggested how the priest might be identified:1) Start showing the witnesses photos of priests with a reputation for holiness. 2) Include photos of priests who are no longer alive. 3) Prepare for a shock.Interestingly, we were at Conception Abbey in … [Read more...]

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Acedia and the Help of Saint Benedict

So, you may have noticed that for the week, I have written nothing. At all. Anywhere.For whatever reason, I have most uncharacteristically been doing battle, all week, with the devilish little blue megrim that is acedia.Actually, "doing battle" sounds romantic and pro-active. It would be more accurate to say I have been whining and unable to work and whining about being unable to work, and wandering around the house ineffectually, and walking the park feeding ducks, and missing my dog, … [Read more...]

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Part II The Chanting Coffin-Maker: Mother Dolores & Agape

Dolores and Don

In Part I of my interview with Mother Dolores Hart, she shared an insight that struck me as being profoundly important to our understanding of the vagaries of love: "all love relationships don’t end at the altar".What is love but a means to an end, the end being to become for each other a model of God? Not an idol, nor an icon/image but a model that helps us to know more fully the depths the Creator's love for each of us.Ponder it: here were Dolores Hart, beautiful young actress and Don … [Read more...]

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“All love relationships don’t end at the altar!” – Part I

As a rule, when it comes to interviewing celebrities, Tony Rossi is our go-to guy, around here. Last week, though, he could not work into his schedule an opportunity to talk to Mother Dolores Hart, the actress-turned-Benedictine-nun who was the subject of last year's documentary, "God is the Bigger Elvis", and this year's best-seller, The Ear of the Heart. Mother Dolores is currently missing her cloister while she makes a major promotional tour in support of the book, and I had the opportunity … [Read more...]

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God in the Balance; Loving Dark and Light

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Regardless of our religion -- whether we are Catholics or Evangelicals or Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist -- the spiritual life challenges us to find balance. One of the reasons I was attracted to the Rule of Saint Benedict was because in ora et labora there is a prescription for balance. In the recitation of the Divine Office, we not only sanctify our time but we also set a pace for the whole day of prayer; work; prayer; work until -- if we are good Benedictines (and I am not one) it all flows … [Read more...]

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On the Craftsmen

If there are craftsmen in the monastery, let them practice their crafts with all humility, provided the Abbot has given permission. But if any one of them becomes conceited over his skill in his craft, because he seems to be conferring a benefit on the monastery, let him be taken from his craft and no longer exercise it unless, after he has humbled himself, the Abbot again gives him permission. If any of the work of the craftsmen is to be sold, let those through whose hands … [Read more...]

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St. Scholastica; Irritating Sister

My Icon of Benedict and Scholastica from the still brilliant fresco at Subiaco.

When I made my first inquiries about becoming a Benedictine Oblate, I received this icon with the monastery's response. It sits on my desk, still.Today is the feast of St. Scholastica, the twin sister of St. Benedict of Nursia. Very little is known about her, historically, and there is some debate about where her relics may be. While in Rome, we were able to take a tour of the monastery and cave at Subiaco, where Benedict founded the order, and our helpful guide communicated that the bones … [Read more...]

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The Leadership Void; we need St. Benedict

Deacon Greg sent this my way, noting, "this is extraordinary, and the piece mentions you, too!"Such a star, I am!What is "extraordinary" is the lengthy post Boston's Cardinal Sean O'Malley put up in his blog, addressing the criticism he has received for presiding (in a very minimalist way, it must be said) at the Funeral Mass of Sen. Ted Kennedy.For the record, I wasn't one of those suggesting Kennedy should not have a Catholic funeral; my gripe was with the sanctification of the man … [Read more...]

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