On Being Distracted While at Prayer

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Tom McDonald came across some very unhelpful advice on how to deal with distraction while at prayer. He turns to some of our Catholic prayer masters for better instruction, and you should go read it, because it's great, helpful stuff we don't read enough.But I also couldn't help remembering Sister Alice McConville, rc, who long ago gave me the sanest and simplest advice on dealing with a wandering mind at prayer. I wrote about it in Strange Gods:“To pray is to love,” she said, “and that i … [Read more...]

As Hispanics Depart: Does Catholicism Ask Too Little of Us?

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Spent some time reading about how Hispanics are converting to Islam and Mormonism.It is striking to consider that while some in the church are suggesting that we need to require less of people, we are losing members to religions that are perceived to require "more" of them -- particularly as pertains to prayer and fasting, and even to what people wear. Hispanic women assert that the head coverings or "temple garments" they wear in obedience tend to give them a sense of "self-respect" that … [Read more...]

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The Great Unraveling: A Necessary Look at Reality

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This morning, the New York Times published an exquisitely-written dose of reality via Roger Cohen. If "only Nixon could go to China" then perhaps only a NYT columnist could spell this out and thus permit us to credibly acknowledge that things are as grim as we have all known, in our guts:It was the time of unraveling. Long afterward, in the ruins, people asked: How could it happen?It was a time of beheadings. With a left-handed sawing motion, against a desert backdrop, in bright … [Read more...]

James Foley, Martyrdom and the Subversive Freedom of Prayer UPDATED

A great deal has been written about the late James Foley, his beheading at the hands of a barbarous Islamic State: the moving response from this band of Syrians, the Jesuit education which, along with the example of his family kept him grounded in his faith; his own words on the power of prayer, written in previous captivity.The story is tragic and infuriating -- every bit as nation-stirring as the similar murder of Daniel Pearl, all those years ago, when bloody "war on terror" was still in … [Read more...]

“My people are being slaughtered!” ISIS = Genocide with impunity UPDATE: And now, the Satanists

"Please, brothers! Our sisters are being taken and sold as slaves in the slave market!...I speak here in the name of humanity! Save us! Save us!""Genocide in the 21st Century! We are being slaughtered! We are being exterminated! An entire religion is being exterminated from the face of the earth!"And it likely won't be the last. To paraphrase Niemöller: First, they came for the Yezidi, and I wasn't a Yezidi, so I said and did nothing...Let's be blunt: the so-called "Islamic … [Read more...]

US Bank “Blessing” Brouhaha; Not a Hill to Die On? – UPDATE

All the blessings

Over at Kathy Shiffer's place, she links to a story about a woman who goes beyond "Have a Nice Day!" and is suing US Bank, for her "right" to do so.Except, from the story at Christian Today, it kinda sounds like this woman was making a pest of herself and her faith, not merely wishing blessings but putting people on the spot, too:The former Walton branch employee had worked for the bank for over 20 years. She said that she started saying "have a blessed day" to all of her customers … [Read more...]

“Why be singular when you can participate in heaven?”

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My latest column at The Catholic Answer is called "Our Professors, Who Art in Heaven" and touches on the question that comes up again and again, particularly with those concerned about idolatry: why do Catholics show such reverence for saints?The Communion of Saints must seem strange to outsiders who wonder why Catholics and Orthodox Christians bother taking side roads in their orisons when a prayer to Jesus seems like a faster, more direct route. As a religious sister from my childhood put … [Read more...]

How Does Vatican Interfaith Prayer Help the Peace Process?

We're seeing lots of internet coverage, stories, and opinions regarding Pope Francis hosting Israel’s President Shimon Peres, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas tomorrow -- on Pentecost Sunday, at the close to the Easter season -- and the prayers that will be said.Here's the deal:. . .Vatican officials also confirmed that Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople will participate in the prayer service [and] stressed that the prayer service should be seen not as a p … [Read more...]

A Joyful Community of Intercessors Needs a Bit More Space

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All photos used with permission.In Rumer Godden's classic gem of a novel, In This House of Brede, a large cloistered community of English Benedictine nuns faces a pressing debt; one nun rather serenely says she will pray for the solution. "Like a child asking the bank manager for a bag of money to take home to Daddy?" a sharp-tongued sister asks in rebuke."Exactly. Exactly like that," says the first nun.Later, when the idea of selling of 7 of the community's 14 acres seems like the … [Read more...]

Heading to Holy Land: May I Take Your Intentions WIth Me?

Early next week I will be heading to the Holy Land as part of a team of Catholic journalists who will be touring most of Christendom's holiest sites, and also encountering the Holy Father during his time in Jerusalem.You regular readers know I do not travel well, so please pray for me, particularly that I might survive that long, tightly-packed-in flight without stroking out, getting deep vein thrombosis or whatever.Please pray for Pope Francis, too, whose itinerary is public, and who … [Read more...]


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