Stuck in Traffic? Try Drive-By Prayers

Evening Trafic in Atlanta

The old man inched along the sidewalk toting a grocery sack. His back was painfully hunched and his eyes were downcast. When I spotted him, my heart filled with pity—and I knew it was time for a drive-by prayer. Drive-by prayers are little invocations that can be offered for complete strangers who are obviously in need of help. And let’s […]

Memoirs of a Nihilist—or What I Learned in College

"The Creation of Adam" (detail) by Michelangelo

I had to snicker. There was my college roommate, across the room from me, and she was on her knees by the bedside, saying her nightly prayers. I was over all that. I had attended Catholic schools for twelve years, and had been thoroughly immersed in every nuance of “The Baltimore Catechism.” One of the first questions had been, “Why […]

An Angel’s Message on All Souls’ Day

A thick fog has settled on the shore. The sun looks bleached and bone-white, almost like the moon. Usually I head to the beach in the warmer months, but some impulse has called me here on this crisp November morning. Strangely, the beach is filled with other people, walking slowly and huddled together against the chill. Suddenly I realize someone […]

Flannery O’Connor and the Devil’s Territory

Flannery O'Connor

Shocking, grotesque, violent, and dark! Readers often use these adjectives after reading Flannery O’Connor’s stories. In her day, the horrified reactions from country folks in the small town of Milledgeville where she lived were fairly predictable. Even her own mother flinched from the gruesomeness of her fiction—and an aunt took to bed for a week after reading O’Connor’s first novel. […]

When a Phone Rings at Mass, It Could be God Calling

Deacon at Holy Mass

The priest in the small church in Seffner, Florida, where I attended Christmas Eve Mass, assured us that God loves us so much he came down from heaven to live with us. “God is with us,” said the priest, “in every moment of our lives, and he always”—but he didn’t get a chance to finish his sentence because some idiot’s […]

Flannery O’Connor’s Prayer Journal: Hearing an Old Friend’s Voice Again

Flannery O'Connor

The year was 2005.  I was sitting on the back deck talking with my spiritual director, Father Richard Lopez, when he suddenly asked me if I’d ever read Flannery O’Connor’s letters. I’d read her stories long ago but not her letters, and his question piqued my interest. Before long, I was poring over “The Habit of Being,” a collection of […]

Memories of a Misfit

My life has always been weird. As a little girl, I suffered through a series of unfortunate, extremely frizzy permanents, overseen by my older cousin Paulie who was going to beauty school. Yes, that’s me in the family photos with the glum expression and the fuzzy head. To make matters worse, I was overweight. Oh, not as bad as my […]

What Do Women Want from Men?

We were sitting by the fireplace having supper when my husband brought up the age-old question, “What do women want in a guy?” It turns out he had been bandying about ideas with some male friends, who confessed to being quite perplexed. Something deep inside me prompted me to say “I know what many Catholic women want.” We want a […]

An Easy Guide for a Truly Remarkable and Fun-filled Lent

A Woman at Prayer

Is Lent over yet? Oh, wait, I just remembered that Ash Wednesday was last week, so this is… oh, no, this is day seven! And already my fingers are itching to check the latest posts on Facebook, while I’m simultaneously longing to gobble down a large chocolate bar studded with almonds. Day seven and I already am falling down into […]

Heaven Would Be No Fun Without Animals

A Boy's Best Friend

I first met him at my in-laws’ house, situated way out in the woods. When I spotted a large black blur with blisteringly white fangs charging toward me, I nearly had a heart attack.  I whimpered in fear, but my brother-in-law said calmly, “Don’t worry, Lo, that’s just Smut.” The lumbering dog suddenly stopped in its tracks – and I put out […]