In the Spotlight

A Case for Priestly Celibacy

There is a very bad argument for celibacy which has reared its head throughout the tradition and which is, even today, defended by some. It runs something like this: married life is morally and spiritually suspect; priests, as religious leaders, should be spiritual athletes above reproach; therefore, priests shouldn’t be married. I love Augustine, but it is hard to deny that […]

Mary, the Gate of Heaven (with the Best Motherly Arms)

I knew I was out of my league when she came barreling toward me.  She weighed at least as much as I did, and she was much more passionate in her goal than I was in mine.  She wanted out, and, seeing her come toward me, I wanted out too, out of the way. My brother-in-law or husband—I don’t remember […]

Why Should I Go on a Retreat?

Dear Sister, Can you answer a question for me?  Why do people need or even want to make a retreat? I’ve never understood that, given the wonderful options I have right here at home through my parish, and, of course, the vast array of media opportunities we have now. Sincerely, Curious Dear Curious, I can think of TEN great reasons […]

Eleanor Roosevelt and United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Spanish text.

True Versus False Human Rights

2018 marks the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was proclaimed three years after the 1945 foundation of the United Nations to give definition to the “fundamental human rights” and “fundamental freedoms” mentioned in the UN Charter. The motivation behind it was to counteract the barbarous acts that occurred at the time of World War II, […]

Photography by Helena Lopes

Bearing One Another’s Burdens

We hear the word “tolerance” a lot these days, but what exactly does it mean? It seems the word itself has been largely redefined to mean the opposite of what it used to mean. Today, the word “tolerance” means that one is no longer allowed to hold opinions with which other people do not agree. Let’s take a step back […]

"The Flight to Egypt" (detail) by Carl Spitzweg

When You Feel Like You’re In Exile

It’s been nearly a year since my husband and I moved our two young daughters out of the only home and neighborhood they’d ever known. My belly was bulging with our third daughter in utero as I packed at least five boxes daily. (Was I nesting early?) The need to move was on the fore of our minds for about […]

Photography © by Randy Hain

What Difference Does Heaven Make?

Heaven’s Difference If a thing makes no difference, it is a waste of time to think about it. We should begin, then, with the question, “What difference does Heaven make to earth, to now, to our lives?” The answer to the question is only the difference between hope and despair in the end, between two totally different visions of life; […]

“The School of Athens” (detail showing Aristotle with the elder Plato) by Raphael

An Evening with William Lane Craig

Ten years ago, when I was a visiting scholar at the North American College in Rome, I fell into a spirited conversation with one of the seminarians about the state of evangelization in America. We both were bemoaning the fact that the “new” atheists—Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and others—were regularly attacking religion, and I commented that no Christian […]

Carpathian mountain valley

The Surprising Message of “Downsizing”

SPOILER ALERT! When I saw the trailer for Alexander Payne’s new film, Downsizing, I thought the movie would be a light-hearted farce, relying principally on visual gags. In point of fact, the jokes based on the contrast between regular-size people and their five-inch tall counterparts are surprisingly rare. Most of the film deals with events within the world of the […]

The Temptation of St. Anthony (detail) by Lucas van Leyden [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

St. Anthony on Spiritual Reading

  St. Athanasius (A.D. 296-373) was the Bishop of Alexandria and is a Doctor of the Church. He tells us that his orthodox heart was formed in the desert where he used to serve St. Anthony (A.D. 251 – 356), and out of this service came the spiritual masterpiece The Life of Antony. This biography alone is a wonder worth […]