Regular Feature

"Suffer the little children to come unto me." (detail) by Carl Bloch [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

All of Life is Bittersweet

Come, Lord, and tarry not; Bring the long looked-for day; Why these years of waiting here, These ages of delay? (Advent hymn) I left the neuropsychologist’s office dumbfounded. If Sarah had received a diagnosis of autism, I would have understood. If ADHD had been a resounding secondary diagnosis to her Apert syndrome, I wouldn’t have flinched. But, in fact, I […]

Our Merciful Mother — Our Lady of Guadalupe

In every approved Marian apparition, Our Lady has a specific mission. Each one reveals a determined and specific message—a unique and necessary goal. In the Anáhuac Valley of Mexico, on a barren hill called Tepeyac, Our Lady of Guadalupe came as a “merciful Mother,” a healer and restorer of all who are broken in body and in spirit. It is […]

"Creation of Adam" (detail) by Michelangelo

Argument from Pascal’s Wager

Most philosophers think Pascal’s Wager is the weakest of all arguments for believing in the existence of God. Pascal thought it was the strongest. After finishing the argument in his Pensées, he wrote, “This is conclusive, and if men are capable of any truth, this is it.” That is the only time Pascal ever wrote a sentence like that, for […]

"Adoration of the Shepherds" (detail) by Balestra

This beloved Christmas song has Mary all wrong

I love Christmas music so much, it’s hard to force myself to wait to listen to it. I make myself wait until at least halfway through Advent, but after that you’ll find me listening to it into January. Of course, there are several Christmas songs that I could do without, and a few that make me want to turn the […]

Blessed Paul VI

Paul VI, Prophet

This coming July, we will mark the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s deeply controversial encyclical letter Humanae vitae. I won’t bore you with the details of the innumerable battles, disagreements, and ecclesial crises that followed upon this text. Suffice it to say that this short, pithily argued letter became a watershed in the post-conciliar Catholic Church and one of […]

"Charity of St. Elizabeth of Hungary" (detail) by Edmund Blair Leighton

How to Respond When You Meet Suffering

In 2005 while undergoing chemotherapy, I was sitting in an uncomfortable recliner on the sixth floor of the medical facility. An IV dripped poison into my veins that would simultaneously cure me of the cancer in my body, and wreak havoc on it, sending waves of nausea, chills, malaise. The concoction did not discriminate between healthy and cancer cells. It […]

Empty-Handed at the End

Yesterday was the start of the Catholic New Year, the first day of the liturgical year.  Once Advent starts, we begin to think about the birth of Jesus, but the gospels for the first week of Advent don’t seem to align with our joyful anticipation of Christmas.  The first week of Advent gospels always warn us to be ready because […]

"The Exhortation to the Apostles" (detail) by James Tissot

I will give you shepherds

My diocese was given a unique Thanksgiving present this year by Pope Francis. After our bishop died in June, we entered that uncertain time of vacancy in the diocese, that time of transition while waiting for a new bishop. We all had much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving when the Pope gave us our new shepherd the Tuesday before […]

Black Elk and the Need for Catechists

I write these words as the annual November meeting of the United States bishops comes to a close. We bishops discussed many significant matters—from racism and immigration to the liturgy for the baptism of children. But I would like to emphasize one theme in particular that came up frequently in our conversations, namely, the catechesis of our young people. I […]

"The Maccabees" by Wojciech Stattler [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Capitulation, Complacency, and the Courage of the Maccabees

This week in the first readings at Mass, we have been hearing the story of the Maccabean revolt against Antiochus Epiphanes. If you haven’t had the chance to hear the readings at Mass, it is worth reading them for a good overview of this important event in the history of the Jewish people. The first and second books of Maccabees […]