March 25, 2019

In this season, many of you are likely practicing some form of asceticism. The word ascetic comes from the Greek “askein,” which is translated as “to exercise.” Thus, its origin captures its true meaning: training in self-discipline. In our modern life, we have an aversion to such practices. But this attitude is grounded in a misunderstanding. We see asceticism as nothing more than penance, equating self-denial with self-punishment. But this is a misinterpretation. Ascetic discipline is not just to atone… Read more

March 17, 2019

Do you lack focus in class? Are you besieged by distractions at church, or procrastination at your job? In one way or another, most of us struggle to pay attention. The ability to be present is a crucial factor in a flourishing life. We need to pay attention to work and learn effectively, to care for others, and to deepen our relationship with God. But it’s hard to stay present. Why is attention so hard? If you struggle to focus,… Read more

March 10, 2019

Friday was International Women’s Day, a day that aims to end discrimination against women. This day is an opportunity to remember the extraordinary female trailblazers who have gone before us. Perhaps more importantly, International Women’s Day invites us to celebrate the experiences of ordinary women throughout the world. We all need to work for greater equality and respect for women. Our Church and our world have a long way to go. But reflecting on this day, I would like to… Read more

February 28, 2019

Here are four things you should read that have challenged, informed, and fascinated me lately. 1. How Neuroscience Can Help Your Kid Make Good Choices, from Greater Good (here). Self-regulation is your ability to manage your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors according to what’s in your long-term best interest. A child’s self-regulation ability predicts later personal fulfillment, relationships and success. However, the qualities that support the development of this key characteristic have been declining in recent years. In this review of… Read more

February 19, 2019

On Thursday, the Vatican is hosting a summit on preventing clergy sexual abuse. Presidents of bishops’ conferences from around the globe will meet for four days, to listen to survivors and discuss the Church’s response. The main themes of the meeting are responsibility, accountability and transparency. It is absolutely essential that women’s voices are represented at this meeting. Horrific atrocities perpetrated by Catholic priests have torn apart the wellbeing of families, of religious orders, of schools, and of parish communities…. Read more

February 13, 2019

“There is no place in the brain for a soul to be hiding.” I recently heard this phrase on a podcast by Sam Harris, who is an American cognitive neuroscientist and philosopher. Harris, one of the Four Horsemen of Atheism, believes that the self is an illusion that will disappear upon close examination. For Harris, this is a profound liberation, a “relief” akin to waking from sleep. Harris’ argument for this view, though, is based in error. Allow me to… Read more

February 7, 2019

Mental illness is incredibly prevalent in the United States, affecting more than one in five adults. However, those who suffer are often faced with stigma, and fail to receive proper treatment. The results – social, economic, medical – are severe. Not least of these is suicide, rates of which have rapidly increased over the past few decades. And over 90% of those who die by suicide show symptoms of a mental health conditions. When it comes to mental illness, no… Read more

February 3, 2019

I recently re-read Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus for the first time in many years. And what I discovered in the pages of Mary Shelley’s 1818 work surprised me. First of all, the text barely resembles the modern-day myth. “Frankenstein” is the creator rather than the Creature. And more importantly, the Creature isn’t a dumb brute, but an articulate, deeply aware, and morally complex character. Secondly, the philosophical implications of the narrative are provocative and arguably ambiguous. The modern interpretation… Read more

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