Churches Should Be Leery of Patriotism


In the most recent issue of First Things, one paragraph in Grant Kaplan's essay "Celibacy as Political Resistance" really caught my attention.  He's writing about the USCCB's opposition to the contraception mandate, but I think his point is well-taken regardless of your position on that policy question: In response to the government’s decision to force Catholic institutions to comply with the new health care law, for example, one might have hoped for a strong, prophetic, and theologically seri … [Read more...]

Blessed be the Bridgebuilders [Pope Francis bookclub]


In 2014, I’m reading and blogging through Pope Francis/Cardinal Bergoglio’s Open Mind, Faithful Heart: Reflections on Following Jesus.  Every Monday, I’ll be writing about the next meditation in the book, so you’re welcome to peruse them all and/or read along.In Pope Francis's second meditation, he talks about the role of a priest and one of the pitfalls of that vocation: An abyss separates the priest from the religious functionary; they are qualitatively different.  Sadly, however, the prie … [Read more...]

The Lingering Sensations of Epiphany


My first Christmas as a Catholic followed swiftly on the heels of my conversion, and I was already arranging flights for interviews for my California job before the season was over, so, this year, I've appreciated getting to experience more of the feasts that come thick and fast after December 25th.  This past Monday was the Feast of the Epiphany which celebrates the revelation of God as Man and whose readings focus on the visitation by the Magi.  Naturally, at Mass, we sang "We Three Kings," w … [Read more...]

Missing the Cues for My Amens


For Catholics, the Christmas season is still ongoing (up until January 12th, the Feast of Christ's Baptism), so the days have been peppered with more feasts and solemnities than I've had time to write about.  But one holiday I particularly enjoyed was the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, which falls on New Year's Day.A group of Catholic friends and I went to the Dominican House of Studies on New Year's Eve for an hour of Adoration (prayer in front of the Eucharist), followed by a vigil … [Read more...]

The Wicked Fairy at the Manger


During Christmas, I got one present for myself: U.A. Fanthorpe's Christmas Poems.  Fanthorpe is a poet, and every year she writes a poem to send out with her Christmas card.  This book is a collection of her annual poems to date.  I picked up the book after a friend read me a couple from her copy.  And one of them seemed very appropriate for today, the Feast of the Holy Innocents. The Wicked Fairy at the Manger My gift for the child: No wife, kids, home … [Read more...]

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...]