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

January 22, 2023

During this weekend’s Mass, I was struck by the second reading of the liturgy from Saint Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians: I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose. For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers and sisters,... Read more

December 9, 2022

A few years ago, my creeping moral unease with major pharmacy chains was galvanized by reading about “pharmacy deserts“, which occur when chains squeeze out and then buy out independent pharmacies only to shut them down, forcing customers to travel burdensome distances to pick up prescriptions – with potentially disastrous effect if people can’t get there by closing time. I was reminded of this on learning of a similar situation happening with a pain management facility, essential to many patients,... Read more

November 28, 2022

Fredrik Backman nails the human condition. I have this recurring thought every time I pick up one of the Swedish author’s novels: A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, Britt-Marie Was Here, and currently Anxious People, where Backman writes in the opening pages: So it needs saying from the outset that it’s always very easy to declare that other people are idiots, but only if you forget how idiotically difficult being human is. Especially if you have other... Read more

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

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