prayer

This World Seems Upside Down

Imagine if you will, that you took a copy of the morning newspaper, turned it upside down and then tried to read and make sense of it. This example actually comes from the French philosopher Simone Weil when she attempted to describe how we humans experience our eternal reality and our relationship with God, while looking at things through our […]

The Stone Walls Surrounding our Heart Must Come Down

“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.” (Hebrews 11:30) This verse from the Letter to the Hebrews refers to the well-known Old Testament story of the fall of the walls of Jericho. But, truthfully, the story has a much larger meaning for each of us. In the context of our individual spiritual […]

Lenten Fasting and the Barren Fig Tree

Photography © by Andy Coan

Is Lent about fasting or feasting? Maybe the two are related, says this commentary on the story of the barren fig tree from the gospel of Luke chapter 13. Prayer. Fasting. Almsgiving. Three inter-related fertilizers which help barren fig trees bear fruit. The Mass readings for the Third Sunday of Lent (Year C) — Exodus 3:1-8, 13-15; Psalms 103:1-2, 3-4, […]

Powerful Lessons from St. Joseph

St. Joseph and the Christ-Child, Belmont Abbey

As the father of a 21-year-old son with high-functioning autism, I am sometimes challenged to give my oldest child the focus and patience he needs from me.  I frequently feel inadequate when I advise and guide my 18-year-old son through the minefields of today’s culture.  My loving wife should expect my best efforts as a husband, yet I often feel […]

Winter of Our Discontent

As these winter months drag to a close, many of us have become familiar with, or been reminded of, the experience expressed in the title of the well-known John Steinbeck novel cited above. Literary buffs might know that the line is actually from William Shakespeare’s play, Richard III. “Now is the winter of our discontent, Made glorious summer by this sun [or […]

Suffering Transfigured

"The Transfiguration (detail)" by Raphael

The love in which God embraces each of us is one of the great truths revealed to us throughout salvation history, but especially through and in Jesus Christ. To come to a better and deeper understanding of this love, we are continually invited by God into a deeper communion of prayer with Him… to come to know Him as He […]

Walking the Way of the Cross

When I was growing up, praying the Stations of the Cross was a staple of every Friday in Lent. We often prayed them in school on Friday afternoons. My family would go to the church on Friday evenings to pray them with the parish. In many places, Fridays in Lent are synonymous with parish Fish Fries. This is a great […]

Struggling with a Restless Heart

“Thou movest us to delight in praising Thee; for Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee” (St. Augustine, Confessions). I think most writers are naturally introspective and reflective.  While praying in preparation for Lent not long ago, I prayed for strength and courage to stay focused on the path Christ […]

An Eternal Hope for Healing

“Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness.” (Matthew 9:35) I heard someone say recently that the number one thing Christ brought to us, aside from the gift of our eternal salvation, was the gift of healing. And I agree, […]

Your plan this Lent… or God’s?

The prayers of the liturgy are rich, and one of my favorites is the collect of the Mass for Ash Wednesday: “Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint.” I love the image of entering […]