“Rem acu tetigisti, Sir.” Freaking Lent. – UPDATED

rem acu tetigisti

Nothing is more annoying than being correctly judged, even in a small way.A broad or inexact hatchet thrown at one's defects often just-misses the target, but a tiny arrow of truth, aimed and fired at precisely the most tender spot within the conscience, can devastate. It is as discomfiting as a poppy seed caught in one's bridgework. You can try to ignore it, but you know its there, and you also know if you don't address it -- if you let the thing remain trapped and hidden beneath the … [Read more...]

Dark Joy, Inclusion, Mad Men, Conceit, Accommodation and the American Church

American Church

My First Things column this week was more or less (and a little weirdly) inspired by three very disparate things: Pope Francis' thoughts on "the dark joy of gossip" (and his homily from yesterday morning), Harry Crane's outburst on last Sunday's episode of Mad Men and Russell Shaw's new book, American Church: The Remarkable Rise, Meteoric Fall, and Uncertain Future of Catholicism in AmericaThe pope's words on gossip have been reverberating within me (and, I know, within others) for weeks, … [Read more...]

So, where and what is this necropolis Pope Francis visited?

Pope Francis, followed by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, visits the necropolis on April 1, 2013. / AP PHOTO/L'OSSERVATORE ROMANO

I was surprised to read here that Pope Francis is the first pontiff to tour the "scavi" -- the "Tomb of Saint Peter and the Necropolis under the Vatican Basilica". My husband and I were lucky enough to tour those narrow, very humid streets beneath St. Peter's (only unearthed in the 20th century) in 2010, and although I am rather claustrophobic, the place was too fascinating, and the privilege of being there too humbling to give in to it. To finally find ourselves just a few feet from the burial … [Read more...]

Graces and Grousing and Gladness — UPDATE

Thank you for your prayers after yesterday's pathetic post. I did go to see Saint Philip Neri and I believe he helped me; I am sure your prayers and good wishes also helped. I ended up having a lovely lunch with Kathryn Jean Lopez, followed with a bit of Sambucca, which I had never had before. I drank it thinking, "well, either I'm better or I'm not but I'm tired of not having fun."Perhaps the Sambucca helped tame the stomach bug. Or made it too drunk to bother me!In any case, I am … [Read more...]

Prayer and Penance: Did Twitter Hasten Benedict’s Retirement?

benedict in shadow

In hindsight, we're seeing clues, now, and reading words he uttered indicating that Pope Benedict XVI has clearly been thinking of renouncing the papal throne for some time.Forgive me if this sounds absurd on the face of it, but I am wondering if, despite these pieces of evidence, Benedict's recent entry into Twitter has had anything to do with the seeming abruptness of his announcement.Before you scoff, consider: the pope's interest in, and support of, the church's engagement with new … [Read more...]

Lisa Hendey, making me look good

lisa_thumb

August and September were unusually busy months -- they flew by in a blur -- and for that reason I wasn't able to really clue in to what Brandon Vogt had in mind when he started a generous project meant to identify and promote Catholic speakers. See, I'm telling you that I was too busy to focus and get it, because I'd rather say that than simply admit, "I am dim."Vanity, vanity!The second part of the project was an interview process (print and video) and since no one else wanted me, … [Read more...]

Portrait of Saint Francis, Subiaco – UPDATED

Francis at Subiaco

When we visited the Benedictine abbey of Subiaco in 2010, my husband -- obedient fellow that he is -- did not take pictures of the glorious and vivid ancient frescoes that so fully adorn its walls. It was a grief to me, at the time, because my eyes couldn't take it all in, and I wanted to remember. But of course, I got the souvenir book, which I do look at, and there is the internet, where one can still get a glimpse.It's not the same as being there, of course, amid the cave where Benedict … [Read more...]

Getting to Know Ramadan

little boy ramadan ONE

Don't know much about Ramadan? Well, join the club, but I became more interested in Islam's holiest month after reading this award-winning essay from ONE Magazine, which is put out by the Catholic Near East Welfare Association.On the surface, Ramadan resembles Christian Lent. It differs, however, in several fundamental ways.Perhaps the most apparent difference is that after breaking the fast at nightfall, Muslims celebrate and often feast. During the first weeks of the month, there are … [Read more...]

A Wee and Angry Word of Thanks to the Bishops? UPDATED

In my column at First Things today, I recount a bit of personal family history:My mother—let’s call her Alice—was born during the Depression to a couple who could neither hear nor speak, and were rather famous around Coney Island for their ability to initiate spontaneous parties and sustain them for whole weekends.They were the polar opposite of today’s “helicopter parents.” For them, parenting was not half as interesting as playing the ponies, their factory-shift work, or partying with t … [Read more...]

Peter and the Sons of Caesar: A World Upside Down

filarete-stp

In observance of the "Fortnight for Freedom", my column at First Things considers that the ever since Peter was crucified upside down, the church has seemed like a screwball, topsy-turvy proposition to the worldly world, and all it's glamor. And all its empty promises:In the first chapter of Father Robert Barron’s remarkable book Catholicism, he discusses the utterly revolutionary fact and idea of Jesus Christ, son of Mary, son of God, as communicated in the “fighting words” that open S … [Read more...]


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