My fundamentalist Granny likes to tell a story on herself as a young wife. It seems she felt smugly superior to a little Catholic housewife she knew, on account of the exceptionally syrupy, hideous portrait of Jesus displayed prominently in the woman's living room.
One day in conversation, the woman happened to remark she knew the painting wasn't an aesthetic treasure, but at least no one could doubt who was head of her household.
That left an indelible impression on my grandmother, who...
The Catholic bishops of England and Wales are the latest to join the trend of returning to mandatory Friday abstinence from meat in their dioceses.
Their reasoning is lovely: they hope a common penance will allow Catholics to strengthen each other and in turn offer a stronger witness in the world.
Friday penance is only one of a number of Catholic practices which seem to be enjoying a resurgence. Younger Catholics and converts appear to be rediscovering the value of some old customs —...
Wedding season is upon us, even on TV, where an awful lot of season finales seem to include weddings.
On television, as increasingly in real life, marriage and the public commitment one to another that it entails is rarely considered the prerequisite for sexual intimacy between a man and woman. I can’t recall the last time I saw a TV wedding that didn’t assume the happy couple was not only sexually active, but living together prior to marriage.
It’s not popular to bring this up, but...
“Let’s go to the Pope!”
“Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope.”
Sung to the tune of “Let’s Go to the Hop,” that was the little ditty my non-Catholic family sang to itself in 1979, when John Paul II came to the U.S. for his first visit as Pope.
He was little more to us than an occasion for annoying street closings when he came to Washington, D.C. I little knew what impact this stranger from a to-me-stranger-religion would come to have on my life.
I’m among the numerous souls...
What does a person need to be emotionally healthy?
I put that question to a psychologist friend of mine at lunch some years ago.
She replied there was no simple answer, but that as a platform for emotional health and wellness, we all need to feel loved, understood, and accepted for who we are.
Driving home I got to thinking about that response and how perfectly it illustrates the truth of St. Augustine’s assertion that God has made us for himself and our hearts are restless until they...
Another Lent, another dispiriting round of Catholic heroes brought low by their own sins, either actual or alleged.
It seems we are always confronting anew the wisdom of the Psalmist’s admonition “Put not your faith in princes,” to which St. John Chrysostom would add, “…even princes of the Church.”
We know this in theory. Each Lent our congregations swell with people eager to receive ashes and be reminded they are dust. Why are we always so shocked to see the truth of it?
Prayer, fasting, almsgiving. Those are the three pillars of this penitential season, whose first full week we’re in.
As the Holy Father advises in his Message for Lent this year, these practices aren’t supposed to be undertaken in isolation; they’re intended to bring us into deeper union with Jesus.
Performed in the proper spirit, our penances aren’t meant to be heavy and arbitrary burdens, but exercises that free us from our attachments, leaving us with lighter spirits and ready...
A dear friend hit one of those milestone birthdays and we all showed up to lend moral support. Her adult children were on hand to “roast” her, but the rest of us had entirely benevolent intentions.
It was a genuinely lovely affair, a gathering of gracious people our friend has built up around herself simply by being the joyful, prayerful and kind person that she is.
The wine flowed and the rooms filled with warm laughter and thoughtful conversation, punctuated all evening by hugs of...
President Obama’s 3.7 trillion dollar budget happened to be released at the same time Conservative politicians and activists gathered in Washington, DC for the annual Conservative Political Action Committee convention this month.
The President’s debt-expansive approach could not be more at odds with the incoming Congress’ taste for budget-cutting as a remedy for prolonged recession. Everyone is gearing up for a battle of ideas over how our nation is going to spend its money....
I heard something truly shocking not too long ago: a man spoke in open admiration of his wife.
It was at a break between sessions at a conference. A couple of us were standing around pouring coffee and jawing about this and that as people do. I can’t quite recall how it came up, but just as naturally as anything one of the men started talking about how wonderful his wife is:
“You will not have a banal conversation with my wife. She is thoughtful and deep and always brings...