Contemplation and Comment Moderation for Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent -- the season of preparation for Easter.  The whole church fasts from meat on Fridays, during this season, and individual Catholics usually make personal commitments to give something up or take something on as a discipline this season.In Lent and in any other time, I sometimes like to review what suggestion other people make to me that I most frequently ignore, and, thus, this Lent seems like a good time for me to take a look at contemplative … [Read more...]

Learning the Dragonslayer’s Laughter [Saints Bookclub]

In 2015, I’m reading and blogging through Ronald Knox’s collection of sermons on Christian exemplars, Captive Flames: On Selected Saints and Christian Heroes.  Every Monday, I’ll be writing about the next portrait in the book, so you’re welcome to peruse them all and/or read along.In his sermon on St. George, Knox focuses primarily on why England would choose this saint as its patron, and what this reflects about England itself.  It makes sense that Knox looks past the saint at what the c … [Read more...]

When Public Religion is Rare, It Gets Weird

 Although every Saint Patrick's Day, streets shut down for a quasi-Catholic-related march, the American St. Paddy's Day has about as much to do with Christianity as it does with Ireland these days, and is mostly an excuse to dress up and drink.  A lot of public festivals have been watered down in this way.  And the ones that remain strongly tied to a particular religious identity tend not to be public.  For example, I once attended Mass at a parish that did have a Corpus Christi proc … [Read more...]

How Small a Promise Can a Vocation Be?

 I'm looking forward to hearing Eve Tushnet speak about her book, Gay and Catholic: Accepting My Sexuality, Finding Community, Living My Faith, tonight at the Catholic Information Center in DC.  And that means it seems like a good time to blog about her book one more time.In November, I hosted a book club for Eve's book, and a lot of our discussion was focused on Eve's expansive use of the word "vocation" and how this more generous concept could inform our lives.  In the most re … [Read more...]

Discussing Continuing Conversion & Prayer with Mark Shea

Last week I joined Mark Shea on his radio show to chat about my conversion, and my forthcoming book on prayer, including what I described as "probably a non-heretical approach to lectio divina," which was originally inspired by the advice my vocal teacher gave me when I kept messing up Sondheim's "Good Thing Going."  She'd tell me, "You're singing the note you want to sing, and Sondheim's going to give it to  you, but not yet."You can hear us talk about how I adapted that advice to scripture … [Read more...]

Catching the Joy of Others [Pope Francis Bookclub]

In 2014, I read and blogged through Pope Francis/Cardinal Bergoglio’s Open Mind, Faithful Heart: Reflections on Following Jesus.  Every Monday, I wrote about the next meditation in the book, so you’re welcome to peruse them all and/or read along.This is the last installment of our Pope Francis bookclub (and I'll post either a shortlist or a final choice about a Monday bookclub for 2015 next week).  I'd like to close with this quote from Francis's final reflection: There exists a tendency … [Read more...]

Paying Penalties to Keep a Prayer Rule

Today, I'm over at the Beeminder Blog, with a guest post on ways to use Beeminder to help organize my spiritual life... without ending up with a weirdly corporate or Pharisaical vibe.  Beeminder is a service that makes it easier to do in the short term what you mean to do in the long term, by letting you take out a contract on yourself, where you have to stick to a certain commitment of decades of the Rosary/week, time spent in bed/day, etc, or pay a penalty.Beeminding Rituals There’s somet … [Read more...]