In Good Company

February 21, 2012
Citizens, not sheep
By Rebecca Ryskind Teti

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens.”

The Father of our Country, whose birthday we just celebrated, penned those words because he saw a clear connection between the nation’s freedom and the virtue of its individual...

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February 07, 2012
Marriage: The other religious liberty issue
By Rebecca Ryskind Teti

Legislatures in Washington, New Jersey and Maryland are now considering whether to redefine what marriage is.

The Washington Senate has already done so and the bill is expected to pass easily through the state House. Same-sex marriage may pass in New Jersey this Spring, though it’s not clear there would be sufficient votes to override Gov. Christie’s promised veto.

In my home state of Maryland, where such a measure was blocked by public outcry last year, an undaunted Maryland...

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January 24, 2012
The Declaration: Our apple of gold
By Rebecca Ryskind Teti

Bishops from the dioceses of Baltimore, Washington and Military Services were in Rome last week, making their requisite ad limina visit to Rome to pray at the tomb of St. Peter and renew their allegiance to his successor.

It was a religious duty they were observing, but the Pope chose to speak to them not of prayer or sacraments, but about threats to religious liberty, the proper relations between Church and State and the role of the Catholic citizen in a secular nation.

His appeal to all...

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January 10, 2012
Facial Recognition
By Rebecca Ryskind Teti

It took all Advent and Christmas, but I’m finally accustomed to responding, “And with your spirit” each of the five times it’s required of us at Mass.

On the whole I’ve settled in to the new English translation of the liturgy. One line still startles me each time I hear it, though. In the second Eucharistic prayer, when we intercede for the dead, the priest prays, “Welcome them into the light of your face.”

I’ve a fond memory from a night in college when I introduced two...

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December 13, 2011
The Night of Las Posadas
By Rebecca Ryskind Teti

I slammed the door on Joseph and Mary the other night. That was after I threatened to slap them.

It wasn’t a renunciation of faith, but an expression of it, however. I was participating in my first Las Posadas celebration, and playing the part of an innkeeper.

Do you know this lovely custom?

It originated in Spain, though now is practiced primarily in Mexico and Central America.

Neighborhoods or church communities mark the novena leading up to Christmas with a nightly candle-lit...

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November 29, 2011
Ecstasy on the Cabin John Bridge
By Rebecca Ryskind Teti

It was Advent fifteen years ago when I went to heaven.

Not literally: I’m too carnal to be making mystic claims for myself. Rather, I experienced one of those moments of grace and transport the Lord sends for no discernible reason other than as pure gift to delight us.

I was commuting to work and tuned into the local classical station when the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah began.

The beloved composition is actually for Easter, as the libretto indicates. We have...

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November 15, 2011
Are we having fun yet?
By Rebecca Ryskind Teti

“Are we having fun yet?” has become a common means of asserting: no, we aren’t.

As whining goes, it’s light-hearted enough, but I can’t help thinking the question and its unstated answer expose a deeper cultural complaint.

We want to have fun, and considering the leisure time and pleasurable pursuits available to us, we should be having it. But we aren’t.

Never are we more certain to fail at “having fun” than as the Thanksgiving-Christmas juggernaut approaches.


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November 01, 2011
Carnac & the Four Last Things
By Rebecca Ryskind Teti

Remember Carnac the Magnificent?

He was the recurring character on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show” who could “magically” divine the answers to questions before they were asked.
“Shovel-ready projects,” he might have said were he here today.

Then his side-kick might open an envelope to reveal the question, “What do we all become at the end of our lives?”

The late columnist William Safire once penned a hilarious column about the jogging craze when it first came into...

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October 18, 2011
God’s Pope
By Rebecca Ryskind Teti

Fifty-three years ago this month, Pope Pius XII passed away.

On the 50th anniversary, his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, celebrated Mass to mark the occasion and gave a thoughtful homily.

A noble tribute to possibly our time’s most maligned man.

A great man, hailed as a hero in his time—personally responsible, in the estimation of Jewish historian Pinchas Lapide for the rescue of some 860,000 Jews during the Nazi persecution of Europe—has been defamed in death as a coward or Nazi...

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October 04, 2011
A friend in St. Francis
By Rebecca Ryskind Teti

One steamy day the summer of my 12th year, I sought refuge in the cool basement of my childhood home and spent an afternoon devouring Felix Timmermans’ The Perfect Joy of St. Francis.

Since Mom is an evangelical and Dad is Jewish, I’ve no idea how this book came to be on our shelves, nor do I recall what attracted me to it. But three hours later the myth that Catholics don’t believe in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ was shattered forever in my mind.

My path to Catholicism...

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