October 2, 2022

Last week I posted the text of a reflection which I gave in my fraternity for the rite of admission for one of our candidates.  I found it as I was preparing another such reflection, for a candidate we just admitted, whom I shall refer to as Art.   Here is the text. My dear brothers and sisters, may the Lord be with you, and you with the Lord! We gather today to welcome our brother Art in his rite of... Read more

September 24, 2022

I was looking for some papers and I found this reflection which I gave last year and always meant to post.  For background:  as part of the process of becoming a Secular Franciscan, a person passes through several stages–visitor, inquirer, candidate–before becoming a professed member.  The ceremony to become a candidate, called the rite of admission, is marked by a short liturgy of the word.  Last year, one of our members, whom I will refer to as Kay (not her... Read more

August 15, 2022

*This is a sincere question, not a rhetorical one…though some rhetoric follows.   I’m writing these words in a room with big windows. I’m looking through them at a blue sky on a bright late-summer afternoon, listening to the sound of locusts, and sipping tea. So far it’s been a good day.   Throughout my life I’ve sat and written in many rooms. Not counting my years in a college dorm, I’ve lived in nine different dwellings as an adult.... Read more

July 16, 2022

Some years ago, we at Vox Nova had a variety of posts on modesty as a Christian virtue, and also on the abuses of this virtue in support of patriarchal or even misogynist values.  You can read a couple of my contributions here and here.  Though I have not written about it in a while, I still pay attention to it (on Facebook and elsewhere) because I find it intrinsically interesting and as a way to monitor the Zeitgeist:  “modesty”... Read more

July 6, 2022

Archbishop John C. Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico, has written a pastoral letter on nuclear weapons and nuclear disarmament, Living in the Light of Christ’s Peace: A Conversation Toward Nuclear Disarmament .  Spurred by his visit to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and aware that his archdiocese contains two of the largest nuclear weapons labs in the world (Los Alamos and Sandia National Labs), Archbishop Wester has written a powerful summary of Catholic teaching and issued a clear call to all... Read more

July 5, 2022

Vox Nova blogger Julia Smucker is a regular contributor to the blog of the Consistent Life Network, a pro-life, pro-peace organization dedicated to non-violence.   Here is a sample of her most recent post: Once while taking a graduate-level test in cultural anthropology, I had a revelation of sorts. In the class, we’d been discussing what’s revealed when different cultural values come into tension. The test essay question went something like, “What would the repeal of motorcycle helmet laws say about... Read more

July 2, 2022

There has not been a lot of traffic on our blog, Vox Nova, in the past couple of years.  For a while I had a weekly series on Catholic Social Teaching in papal encyclicals, driven by a pandemic based reading group, that was more for my own benefit than anything.  Writers moved on, people developed other interests, and somehow Vox Nova got moved to the back burner.  So much so that Patheos recently wrote to ask if we wanted the... Read more

June 30, 2022

I have a friend with whom I agree on most political issues. A moderate Democrat, he supports things like social welfare programs that promote equality and comprehensive immigration reform. One area where we firmly clash, however, is in our attitudes toward war. A historian of the ancient world, he believes that war has always been with us and always will be. I, meanwhile, am mostly persuaded by cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker’s arguments that, on the scale of all human history,... Read more

November 21, 2021

At the risk of getting myself in trouble with readers, I am going to say it: I struggle to believe in God. I call myself a Christian. I attend Mass and recite the Creed. I read Christian books and write for Christian publications. And yet, on a day-to-day basis, I find it difficult to pray. I rarely feel the presence of a divine being unheard and unseen. When someone asks me to pray for them, I do. But I often... Read more

September 1, 2021

On September 11, 2001, I woke up in my college dorm in the New York City suburb of Yonkers. I’d gone through orientation and now was starting my first week of classes. I can’t remember if my two roommates were in the room with me or not – I vaguely remember being alone in the room but cannot be sure. Suddenly, the phone (a landline) rang. “A plane just hit the World Trade Center!” my mother was screaming frantically. “There... Read more


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