A Bomb Is Not a Mother

Pope Francis has a penchant for using maternal imagery in reference to the Church, and true to his gift for holding up the beauties of the Church’s tradition to let them speak for themselves, he does so in ways that transcend any pietistic stereotypes.  Recently, he used this type of language to turn the language of [Read More…]

This Campaign of Christian Service

Maybe because of the areas where much attention has been drawn of late, something stood out to me in the collect of this morning’s Ash Wednesday mass.  The prayer begins, Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service… The word “campaign” immediately brought to my mind a political [Read More…]

December 27, The Feast of the Holy Family

I am late again.  I decided to not hold myself responsible for sermons for feast days—keeping up with Sunday is proving to be enough of a challenge.  But “skipping” Christmas did not get me any closer to preparing for this feast.   The choice of readings–two first readings, two second readings (with a choice of a [Read More…]

A Disturbing Calm: a quote for Advent

From Jennifer Worth’s memoir, Call the Midwife (the basis for the BBC/PBS TV series of the same name, which I was alerted to by this review in America), recounting her experiences as a young nurse-midwife in the 1950s, working with an order of nuns in London’s East End: For the first time in my life I [Read More…]

The Tears of the Infant Jesus

The word “solemn” has a range of meaning that borders on the paradoxical.  Most commonly, outside of church parlance, it’s synonymous with somber and serious.  In a liturgical context, however, it approaches the opposite meaning: the more solemn a feast day, the more festive and celebratory.  There is a logical connection here in terms of the weight [Read More…]

Romero’s Last Christmas Homily

On this night 35 years ago, Archbishop Oscar Romero presided over what would be his last celebration of the Feast of the Nativity of the Lord. In his homily, he preached a word of hope in a particularly tumultuous context to the faithful of El Salvador; yet the tumult of our own time, indeed of every [Read More…]

A Pair of Modern Crosses for Troubling Times

One of the great gifts of the Catholic tradition is that our communion in the Body of Christ is not cut off by death: in short, the communion of saints, of which the official canon is most likely the tip of the iceberg.  We can seek spiritual companions from among this great cloud of witnesses [Read More…]

Nationalism is not catholic.

Yes, the lower case in this title is intended to make a point: while the same should follow in the “big-C” sense of “Catholic”, I want to make it clear that I am referring to a thing called catholicity – without which calling ourselves “Catholic” wouldn’t mean much.  It is a reminder for those of us [Read More…]

Singing Is Believing

I was converted by Haitian Eucharistic hymns. Of course, there is a good deal more to the story than that, but the statement is nonetheless true – especially if one considers the conversion process (which never really ends) to contain many conversions, big and small, along the way.  And my first conversion in relation to [Read More…]

Saint Martin of Tours and the Mythos of Militarism

Attending daily Mass this morning, I was reminded of two observances taking place today, in an ironic intersection of liturgical and national calendars.  For the Catholic Church, it is the feast of St. Martin of Tours, a 4th-century convert who experienced an irreconcilable tension between his Christian faith and his career as a soldier.  Meanwhile, [Read More…]