After a Year with Pope Francis

francis child hat

Time, The Advocate, and The New Yorker are just the latest publications to find Pope Francis front-page worthy news and the symbol of a spiritual year in review.  Meanwhile, I’ve gotten an email from a friend who wants a recommendation for a Pope Francis book for a relative who is unexpectedly excited about Catholicism again, and I see non-Catholic friends sharing interview excerpts and photos, talking about the first pope they’ve liked.And, the whole time, I’ve felt a little odd about not be … [Read more...]

Pope Francis and the Mendicant Christ

Sculpture by Timothy Schmalz

Pope Francis gave an interview to La Stampa, and, all caveats about translation aside, these two questions and responses caught my eye: What does Christmas say to people today?“It speaks of tenderness and hope. When God meets us he tells us two things. The first thing he says is: have hope. God always opens doors, he never closes them. He is the father who opens doors for us. The second thing he says is: don’t be afraid of tenderness. When Christians forget about hope and tenderness they bec … [Read more...]

A Season Worth Waiting For

O_Come_O_Come-Hardwig-78

The Catholic year is divided up into liturgical seasons, and, yesterday, Advent began.  Advent is, for Catholics, a small version of Lent.  It precedes Christmas, as Lent does Easter, and is a season of waiting and preparing through fasting and reflection.  We are waiting for Christmas, but also the second coming of Christ, His two inbreakings into the world are paired in this season.It's also a very nice excuse for not putting up Christmas decorations or for complaining about overplayed ca … [Read more...]

Let there be shame and confusion

chalice

A few days ago, I was praying the Midday Prayer of the Divine Office, and I was struck by the juxtaposition of two of the psalms slated for that day (Wednesday, 31st week of ordinary time).  First there was this part of Psalm 70: O God, make haste to my rescue, Lord, come to my aid! Let there be shame and confusion on those who seek my life.O let them turn back in confusion, who delight in my harm, let them retreat, covered with shame, who jeer at my lot. Which was shortly followed … [Read more...]

In Which I Still Struggle With Pelagianism

confessional

I think one of the worst near occasions for sin for me comes whenever I’m nearing the end of my turn in the confessional. I’ve disclosed my sins (some of them easily, some of them blurted out quickly, as though that lessens their gravity) and then the priest assigns me penance.Unfortunately, my kneejerk reaction is usually, “That’s it?!?”When a priest assigns me only a few prayer, or a spot of silent meditation, I feel like I’m getting away with something. Surely he could come up with som … [Read more...]

A Saint for this Season

corsini

Yesterday, I had a lot of trouble making it to church for the Feast of All Saints.  All Saint's Day is a Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics, and it's the feast of all those in the Church Triumphant -- all the saints, recognized on earth through canonization and those unknown to us, but sharing in the beatific vision.Unfortunately, as I'm in a more rural area teaching at a work event, we had to deal with poorly-marked, poorly-lit signs, and spotty GPS to get there.  Around the third time we … [Read more...]

Costumes, Constraint, and Chapel Veils

veil

In my high school theatre productions, our director encouraged us to start working on assembling costumes early.  Especially shoes.  Once you had something of your character's, you could start using it to feel less like yourself, and stop doing things by rote.  If you had nothing else, he said, you could put a pebble in your shoe so you were a little less comfortable in your normal stance. I'm on a plane all day, so, since I ended up without the opportunity to dress up for Halloween, I thought I' … [Read more...]


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