February 18, 2024

After reading my fellow blogger Julia Smucker’s piece about the implication of wearing our ashes on Ash Wednesday, I thought I would share a curious variant that I encountered in Lisbon.   I am here for business and since there was no English language alternative for Ash Wednesday, my wife and I went to the local parish church, Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima, for the evening service.  As we were waiting to queue up to receive our ashes, I... Read more

February 14, 2024

There is a video of a PostSecret event – where audience members can choose to share a secret publicly – in which a Muslim woman wearing a hijab says: “My secret is that because I wear the headscarf, because I’m so clearly Muslim, I go out of my way to be nice to everybody, to donate to everybody that ever asks me for money in public, just because I don’t want them to think that Muslims are bad people, even... Read more

February 4, 2024

The publication of Fiducia Supplicans by the Vatican almost two months ago prompted quite a tumult in the Catholic world (at least on social media), with all manner of reactions, both positive and negative.  I don’t want to dive into the controversy over this document, at least not directly.  Suffice it to say that from my perspective, much of the hostility towards this document in the United States is driven by the faction of Catholics who are overtly hostile to... Read more

January 7, 2024

Visiting family for Christmas affords the opportunity to keep the feast among both Mennonites and Catholics, the two branches of the Christian tradition that I consider home. Even though they don’t currently live in or near any of the multiple communities in which my faith was formed, being among Mennonites invariably feels like a homecoming of sorts, a return to a native country from which I may have in some sense expatriated, but which can never not be home. Why do... Read more

December 24, 2023

Eleven years ago, I gave this sermon to my Secular Franciscan fraternity and posted it here at Vox Nova.  It is one of my favorite posts on Vox Nova.  In light of the my last post on Greccio, I want to share it with you again. December 16, 2012, Gaudete Sunday A sermon delivered to St. Joseph Fraternity, Hartford, as part of our  annual Christmas Creche devotion My brothers and sisters in Christ: may the Lord give you Peace! Today... Read more

December 24, 2023

The year 2023 marks the 800th anniversary of the very first Christmas creche, which was created by St. Francis of Assisi to celebrate midnight mass in the town of Greccio in 1223.   The story is recounted by his first biographer, Thomas of Celano, and below I have pasted an extensive extract of his account.   Francis did more than create a creche:  he created a living nativity scene in a cave, complete with an ox and ass. To mark this occasion,... Read more

December 20, 2023

Last summer, two people in my life got diagnosed with terminal cancer.   On the weekend after Thanksgiving – the feast of Christ the King – one of them made the transition from curative to palliative care. After about two months of chemotherapy, he contracted COVID-19 last October. Though he recovered, he was left too weak to withstand more chemo. He spent much of November in a rehab facility trying to regain strength to continue the treatment. But at Thanksgiving... Read more

December 19, 2023

On October 7, 2023, when I woke up to the news of the Hamas attacks on over 1300 innocent Israeli citizens, I was horrified. The world was – and is – already grappling with one major war brought on by Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. On that otherwise beautiful autumn morning, I learned that the world’s most infamous conflict zone – a land holy to followers of three religions – had exploded into violence. This violence has only continued... Read more

July 30, 2023

There have been times over the past few years when I’ve gotten the deeply unsettling feeling that I was observing society around me careening toward some sort of catastrophe, as if in slow motion yet simultaneously at breakneck speed, and that although I could see it coming, I could do nothing to stop it. I started having that feeling while seeing a certain famous narcissist attempt to use governmental power to maintain (and now to regain) that power, fueled by... Read more

March 12, 2023

At today’s Mass, we hear one of my favorite Gospel stories: Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. I am grateful to US Catholic for inviting me to share a personal meditation on this reading as part of their Sunday Reflections series. A reflection for the third Sunday of Lent Imagine that, one late July afternoon, while driving down Highway 20 outside Galena, Illinois, you stop at the scenic overlook rather than passing it by. Suppose you admire the pastures,... Read more


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