Message from a Smiling Madonna

Smiling Madonna by Jef Murray

Things were going downhill fast. There had been an unsettling phone call from a relative, and when I tried to gently offer advice, she hung up on me. It was early morning on a cloudy day, and I felt a deep yearning to go to Mass, but my local parish doesn’t have morning Masses during the summer – so I decided to […]

Flannery O’Connor and the Hardest Lesson of All

It came on suddenly like so many physical maladies do. One day I noticed numbness in my leg, and it didn’t go away for quite a while. The doctors said the problem was a pinched nerve in my back. What to do? Stop sitting at the computer for long periods at a stretch was one piece of advice. Habits are […]

A Catholic Woman’s Journey with Contraception

I was in high school when the advent of the birth-control pill was announced to the world, and it was declared by secular society to be a wondrously liberating device. For married women, the pill was touted as offering freedom from a string of pregnancies. For single women, the pill was hailed as a way to enjoy sex without commitment – as […]

Please Don’t Say You Are ‘Just’ a Mother!

The question arises at nearly every cocktail party. Folks hovering over the onion dip and meeting someone for the first time will inquire, “What do you do for a living?” The answer “I’m a psychiatrist” has a tendency to make the questioners nervous, since they fear the doctor will try to detect their neuroses on the spot. And English teachers […]

Ten Reasons Why I Love Lent

It may seem strange to say that I love a season of repentance, but in fact, I look forward to Lent every year with great enthusiasm. In many ways, I see it as a time when the rubber really hits the road for Catholics, as we put aside excuses and get serious about our faith. And here are the reasons […]

My Mother’s Lessons in Love

Artwork © by Jef Murray

The first commandment was the first one I ever broke, although I didn’t know any better at the time. You see, I idolized my mother before I knew much about God. As she stormed through the house with her vacuum cleaner, I trailed along behind her, proclaiming, “You are the most beautiful woman in the world.” That was my early […]

A Reluctant Pilgrim at Lourdes

Lourdes Basilica

Many Catholics would be eager to be given an all-expenses-paid trip to Lourdes, but there are some who might decline. After all, not everyone is keen on overseas travel, not to mention the huge crowds that gather there. And as the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes approaches on Feb. 11, I find myself wondering what I would do. […]

Call me “Mrs.” – Please!

A rose by any other name...

A rose by any other name, Shakespeare said, would still have a lovely aroma, and that is certainly true. Still, names are extremely important, and if you disagree, ask a man whose surname is Pig – and compare his life experiences with a fellow named Jones. As for me, I am perfectly fine with my last name, but I wish […]

Dear Santa: All I Want for Christmas is the Truth!

Photography © by Andy Coan

Our nephew Noah, 7, has a real thing about Santa. Last year he was thrilled when he and his mom had breakfast with the jolly bearded fellow at the zoo in their hometown. The photos tell the tale. The first shows Noah with a look of ecstasy on his face as he perches on Santa’s lap, explaining in careful detail […]

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 […]