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...]

Absorbing the Mind and Music of Sam Rocha

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One of the great charms of Sam Rocha is that he hasn't much interest in thinking along easy or comfortable lines. Whether writing on education, or poverty or art, he is always just a little bit jarring. Sometimes you have to read a piece of his twice, or even go back to it a third time, to fully appreciate the depths and nuance of his arguments.This originality informs his musical ideas, as well. Not too many people, for instance, consider Saint Augustine's thoughts on love, humility, … [Read more...]

The Beautiful Doubled-Edged Sword of Hospice – UPDATED

Carl McColman has lost his beloved daughter, Rhiannon:Many well-meaning friends and loved ones say things like “At least she’s in a better place now” or “She’s no longer stuck in a wheelchair” or “Well, her suffering is over.” That’s all true and I believe it — thank heaven for my faith, or I think my sense of being plunged into an abyss would be far more engulfing than it is. And I don’t mean to criticize the genuine love and concern from the many people who care. But every time I hear a com … [Read more...]

Fulton Sheen Might Counsel Patience, Today

At the news, late yesterday, that the cause for sainthood for Venerable Bishop Fulton J. Sheen had been suspended, there was some understandable confusion and sadness. Some predictable high-drama and Catholic angst got flung around the web, too, as it seemed like -- given the available information -- Peoria's Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria ("actor" of the cause and President of the Sheen Foundation) and New York's Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan were having a tug of war with the corporeal remains … [Read more...]

BREAKING: NY Archdiocese responds on Sheen – UPDATED

Minutes ago, Joseph Zwilling, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of New York, released the following statement today on behalf of the archdiocese, in an attempt to clarify certain questions concerning the cause of Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.“The Archdiocese of New York joins Bishop Daniel Jenky of the Diocese of Peoria in his invitation to prayer that “God’s will be made manifest” concerning the cause for sainthood of Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. People have a … [Read more...]

Kolbe Would Have Worn the Nun (ن)

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I meant to write this earlier but the day got away from me. Now, it's sundown and past the feastday of Saint Maximilian Kolbe -- we're actually in the Vigil of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, but I'll write about that tomorrow. Let's look at Kolbe one more time before calling it a day, or a night, and I'll tell you why.Kolbe was a Catholic priest and very much a subversive:He’d been arrested, in part, for hiding and assisting Jews — 2000 of them. Subversive. H … [Read more...]

Changing Hearts, Minds, and ‘Senses’

In the last post, we talked about ‘senses’, the gut feelings, unquestioned assumptions, and ‘unknown unknowns’ that frame our thoughts and beliefs, often deciding what we choose to accept and reject.We concluded by posing some questions: How do people form and change their narratives, their “senses”, their social imaginaries? Can it even be done? How can we know our unknown unknowns, anyway? And aren’t Catholics as sense-bound as the next guy? Not being Damon Lindelof, I try to make a habit … [Read more...]

Social Justice and Mercy: “Two Threads of the Same Helix”

For yourself, for the world, read this book!

All it takes to sustain a culture war is a few select voices shouting in ideological indignation and people who are willing to label themselves “left” or “right” and then fall in line. In the 21st Century, this uncompromising mindset is creating economic and political stagnation and a socio-political distrust that is destroying us.It doesn’t have to be this way. With Saints and Social Justice: A Guide to Changing the World, author Brandon Vogt dares to suggest that our world might be saved f … [Read more...]

Scary John the Baptist – UPDATED

A favorite priest calls him "Scary John the Baptist", and there are my notes on what makes him scary, culled from one great homily:John’s scariness; he embodies faith at its most primitive; he seems unsophisticated and a little exotic. He is the wild man, of wild places; he is not civilized.There is in him no facade of civilization or society. He delivers a unfiltered message, one undistracted by the worldly things or the niceties. He disgusts the Sadducees and Pharisees who see t … [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...]


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