Blog

July 25, 2021

Real Poverty-Not Knowing What We Lack

Real Poverty-Not knowing what we lack. We hear the phrase a lot: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” And recall that St. Mark qualifies St. Luke’s with two words: “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Until hearing a homily by EWTN priest Fr. Mark Mary, I’d not given any thought to the qualifier, “poor in spirit.” When hearing that beatitude, my mind automatically interpreted the words of Christ to mean material poverty: the poor have far more chance of making heaven than do we who have received such abundance. Real poverty-not knowing what […]
July 18, 2021

In Praise of Criticism-Albeit with Gritted Teeth

In praise of criticism, albeit with gritted teeth About four or six weeks ago, I sent the first draft of my newest book, The Reluctant Queen-The Story of Esther– to my four readers. These four people are generous enough to read the word document online and tell me what they think. It’s not editing I want from them. Instead I’m looking for honest reactions by people who love reading a great story. And can tell instantly if there are problems in these areas: Overall coherence “Feel” of the characters and plot. Whether or not main character-Esther- can be clearly visualized […]
July 11, 2021

Called to be prophets: Each of us.

Not me! You’re joking, right? Called to be prophets: each of us? Prophets were the Old Testament men. Like Isaiah, Ezekial, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Amos. They were called by the Lord to prophesy repentence to the Chosen Ones: the Israelis. Right, but it did not end there. Last Sunday’s homily from Bishop Robert Baron is titled, You are called to be a prophet. This one echoed in my mind and heart, hence this piece on the obligation of each Christian, each of us, to take stock. Not of our neighbor. Not of our politicians. Nor our priests, Bishops or pastors. […]
July 4, 2021

Is Anger An Emotion? Or Learned Reaction?

Is anger an emotion? Or a learned reaction: habit? We feel it everywhere: Anger. Whether a seething whisper or bellowing roar, resentment, anger, even rage, feels like the fuel of this brand new year as the second decade of the twenty-first century heads south…The youngest child of a mother who seemed slightly to very discontented for the majority of her time on this planet, I began my acquaintance with anger at an early age. I wrote that paragraph five years ago, but it accurately descibes what we read, watch and hear in 2021. Hence I have revisited the question, “Is anger […]
June 27, 2021

Thomas More-Patron Saint of Politicians-and Pope John Paul

Thomas More, Patron saint of politicians. This past Tuesday was the Feast Day of Saint Thomas More. Sir Thomas More was Henry Vlll’s Lord Chancellor during the King’s attempts to persuade the Catholic Church to grant him an annulment. His marriage to Catherine of Aragon was invalid, claimed the King, for it had produced no heirs. Henry argued that he should be free to marry Anne Boelyn so that the reign of the House of Tudor would be protected. King Henry’s argument failed. So the King declared himself-and successive monarchs- head of the church through a Parliamentary move called the […]
June 20, 2021

The Real Competition is for Souls- Super Apostles

The real competition is for souls I have read and heard St. Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians numerous times. I speak of the passage referring to the “super Apostles.” But had always assumed that St. Paul referred to some of the original twelve, (Including Mathias.) After listening to Fr. Alphonse Van Guilder’s homily for Thursday of this past week, however, I realized that St. Paul was not referring to Peter, James, Andrew or any of the original disciples. Instead, the Super Apostles that Paul spoke of were those who changed Christ’s message to suit their own agendas. …But I am […]
June 13, 2021

The Talkative Man is not Stable on the Earth

The talkative man is not stable on the earth Thi phrase is from the extensive treatment of humility by St. Benedict. Chapter seven, the reading for this past Monday, June 7 was: The ninth degree of humilityis that a monk restrain his tongue and keep silence,not speaking until he is questioned.For the Scripture showsthat “in much speaking there is no escape from sin” (Prov. 10:19)and that “the talkative man is not stable on the earth” (Ps. 139:12). When I read it last Monday morning, the words echoed in my mind and have not left. Augmented and amplified by its antecedent: […]
June 6, 2021

Ever Think About People From Your Past?

Ever think about people from your past? Well, sure, we all do. Especially teachers or professors who changed our lives. Or bosses we were privileged to work for. And, of course, those rare friendships lost through a move, or a divorce, or some kind of disagreement which could not be resolved. But I had never heard of thinking about people from your past as “good spritual practice” until listening to Fr. Alphonse Guilder‘s homily for Wednesday’s daily mass. Fr. Alphonse was speaking of the reading from Tobit: the one detailing Angel Raphael’s restoration of Tobit’s sight and exorcism of Sarah’s […]
May 30, 2021

It’s Memorial Day Weekend- Shouldn’t We Think About the Cost of Freedom?

It’s Memorial Day Weekend Traditionally, Memorial Day opens the gates to summer: barbeques, beaches and bathing suits, concerts. But this holiday (holy day) is so much more than summer fun. Since we are obligated to honor those countless men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice, shouldn’t we think about the cost of freedom? It’s Memorial Day weekend. Memorial Day’s beginning was, fittingly, during the Civil War. According to the Library of Congress, southern women decorated the graves of dead soldiers long before the war’s end. June 1, 1861 may be the first such grave to be decorated in Warrenton, […]
May 23, 2021

Thinking About Heaven and Hell- And the New York Times

Thinking about heaven and hell Today is Pentecost. This day marks the end of fifty days of joyous liturgical celebration of death’s destruction by Jesus when the Father raised Him from the dead. It follows seven days after the Great Sunday or Jesus’ ascension into heaven. And commerorates the descent of the Holy Spirit “in tongues of flame” upon the disciples. The Spirit, Jesus explains, could not be released until He ascends into heaven and takes his seat at the right hand of the Father. I will send the Paraclete who will teach you all things. The Gospel readings for […]
May 16, 2021

Even Perhaps Grope for Him and Find Him

St. Paul is speaking to the Athenians Probably because I spent time in Athens during a long-ago ten-day journey to Greece, St. Paul’s speech to the Athenians always pierces through my skull to ping around in my head. This past Wednesday, his words cut more deeply than usual. Plunging deeply into my heart and psyche, they leave red streaks. Just so does my memory of sitting alone in the Acopolis of Athens become so vivid that it feels like yesterday. He made from one the whole human raceto dwell on the entire surface of the earth,and he fixed the ordered […]
May 9, 2021

The Labor of Obedience

The labor of obedience: For many years, the word obedience served as a lightning rod to me. The concept connoted all that I disliked about being female: Powerlessness, submissiveness, conformance, passivity and…  And yet, feminism offered no viable solution. Fundamentally, feminists blamed men for whatever ailed us and seemed fixed on adopting the role of victim, seeking redress in legislation and our culture of euphemisms. But then I became a Christian Catholic and a few years later, an Oblate of St. Benedict. And that word, like so many others in the vocabulary of faith became something I embraced; at times, […]
May 2, 2021

We Stiff-Necked People: Hearts and Ears Uncircumcised

We stiff-necked people: hearts and ears uncircumcised The reading for the April 13th daily mass was from the Gospel of John. The passage begins, “Jesus said to Nicodemus, “You must be born from above.” The wind blows where it wills and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” And ends with, “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of God be lifted up so that everyone who believes in […]
April 25, 2021

Ode to Shadow-I Can’t Stay Any Longer

Ode to Shadow-I can’t stay any longer John was watching our boy panting, lurching because his back legs barely support him, yet incapable of stopping the relentless pacing that exhausted and caused him intense pain. And then John said, “I can’t stay any longer, I’ve stayed as long as I could.” A wholly perfect translation of this past Monday morning when Shadow let us know it was time. You think you’re ready. You see the fur whitening, energy dropping, diminishing interest in eating. Then the confusion, ataxia, muscle wasting which create a perfect storm of misery. You tell yourself that […]
April 18, 2021

The Death of A Monarch- Prince Philip

The Death of a Monarch The late consort of Queen Elizabeth II was a paradigm of the Age of Stoicism. That statement in Francis Phillips’ article, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, grabbed me. Enough to write this week’s piece about the late husband of the Queen of England. It’s that phase, “a paradigm of the age of stoicism” which made me curious enough to ponder the death of a monarch. More on stoicism later. But first some background. An anglophile I am not. But like most of us, a British accent gets my attention. Somehow the accent confers more knowledge, […]
April 11, 2021

Are You the Only One Who Does Not Know?

Are you the only one who does not know? Dear Brothers and Sisters, in our time…The concealment of God is part of contemporary man’s spirituality, in an existential almost subconscious manner, like a void in the heart that has continued to grow larger and larger. Pope Benedict Just so, the road to Emmaus, the Gospel reading for Wednesday, April 7th, in the Christian liturgy serves as metaphor for humanity. Whether believers or not; consciously or unconsciously, all seven billion of us walk beside the God-man and ask Him, “Are you the only one who does not know about what they […]
April 4, 2021

The Irresistible Essence of Divinity

The irresistible essence of divinity We all feel it: The magnetic, magnificence of Beauty. Whether in sunsets, ocean surfs, newborn infants or soaring orchestral chorus, our hearts soar, are lifted up in what feels like an echo of something so yearned for that we cannot express it. During the many years I considered myself an atheist, agnostic or another label that felt fitting, a sunrise or operatic aria could drop me to my knees figuatively or literally. I feel confident that even those most immersed in our woke culture are goaded by the irresistible essence of divinity. Now that we […]
March 28, 2021

Praying The Old Testament: Mirror For You and Me

Praying The Old Testament: Mirror for you and me. “Catholics pray the Old Testament? Really?” The speaker was a Jewish friend. Agrressively atheist, yet intrigued by my love for her people. Judith was just the first of many Jews and Christian friends who have asked me that question with incredulity. “I have always been attracted to the Jewish people…the Jewish religion.” Elizabeth, another Jewish atheist we met on a cruise, was surprised- even uncomfortable, at my words. Even more so when I added, “You are God’s chosen people.” Why do I feel this way? There are many reasons. Growing up, […]
March 21, 2021

Have We Got it Wrong: Heaven on Earth?

Have we got it wrong: Heaven on Earth? Is heaven a place far away? Only habitable by the dead? Or could it be attainable here? On earth…in this life? Many, perhaps a majority, of us look at our life on earth as something to be endured. Perhaps a cosmic test of some kind. Increasing numbers of us accept reincarnation and its karmic payback. We Christians may not all that different in our thinking. Many of us act as if suffering is what life is…what life should be. We seem determined to wrest misery out of the jaws of joy. Overstatement? […]
March 14, 2021

Fasting: Why Do It?

Fasting: Why do it? We are body, spirit, and soul, we humans. For many of us, however, any concept of our spirit or soul is either whimsy or irrelevant. In this postchristian culture, we have confidence only in our bodies. Spirit and soul have been eclipsed by the pure physicality of our material forms. To some of the most physical of us, the athletes, fasting became a way of life in the late nineties and spread. Over time, it has caught on. The health benefits of fasting from all food for eight, sixteen hours, or two to three days comprise […]
March 7, 2021

The Institutionalization of Denial: Legacy of the Social Sciences

The institutionalization of Denial: Legacy of the Social Sciences You know them when you meet them. Or read them. Or have the privilege to study under them. Those rare people gifted with the courage to perceive their limitations; even trumpet their errors. Edwin H Freidman was such a man. Although you may be tempted to read politics into this piece, do not do so. For there is wisdom contained here, if it is reduced to politics, it disappears. Edwin Friedman was an ordained Rabbi, psychoanalyst and family therapist, and a leadership consultant in Washington, DC. He founded the Bethesda Jewish […]
February 23, 2014

People You’d Like To Meet In Heaven

I think there was a book by this name- or close to it- published a few years back…or maybe it was a movie. Regardless, I think about that question now and then, perhaps we all do. When I read something that prompts me to consider this possibility ( CS Lewis is almost always my catalyst, more on why in a moment), I get stuck on a few details. Like these: Will I get there? If and when I do, will there be a recognizable I…? Will who I was while here, what I did and what I thought be accessible […]
May 26, 2019

CS Lewis The Great Divorce: A Rereading

John Chillingworth/Picture Post/Hulton Archive, via Getty Images CS Lewis- The Great Divorce: A Rereading …the bus was full oflight. It was cruel light. I shrank from the faces and forms by which I was surrounded. They wereall fixed faces, full not of possibilities but of impossibilities, some gaunt, some bloated, someglaring with idiotic ferocity, some drowned beyond recovery in dreams; but all, in one way oranother, distorted and faded. One had a feeling that they might fall to pieces at any moment if thelight grew much stronger. Then-there was a mirror on the end wall of the bus-I caught sight […]
July 28, 2019

CS Lewis and Karl Rahner

CS Lewis and Karl Rahner Most likely they never met. But the atheist turned Anglican Christian CS Lewis and the Roman Catholic Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner perceived their God in radically similar ways. Both men served as apologists for their faith causing more than a little consternation in the minds of more rule bound colleagues. “I think all Christians would agree with me if I said that though Christianity seems at the first to be all about morality, all about duties and rules and guilt and virtue, yet it leads you on, out of all that, into something beyond. One […]
September 22, 2019

The Contradictions Of Sin And Mercy

Contradictions of sin and mercy There are times when an essay from the past feels fitting. This is one of those times. Mostly because there is one man who better understands the contradictions of sin and mercy better than any other: Karol Wojtyla. His first published work was a series of meditations prepared at the request of the then Pope Paul VI for the 1976 Lenten Retreat of the Pope and his staff. The then Cardinal called his book, The Sign of Contradiction. I first wrote these words was in April of 2014. In some ways, that feels like a […]