suffering

The Gift of 2020

“Let us not waste the graces of this year.“ I have a calendar hanging on the wall of my kitchen. I buy the same one every year—one that features beautiful art each month that can be cut up at the end of the year and framed. As a result, it’s a bit of a splurge … so I wait until […]

The Answer is Jesus

Photo by Francesco Alberti on Unsplash

He may not remove burdens, but He will help carry them. A bishop was visiting one of his diocesan schools one day, and he stopped in to see the kindergartners. The children sat quietly in expectation, having been well-prepared by their teacher for this special visitor. The bishop tried to break the ice. “Do you know what I saw when […]

A Sacrifice of Prayer

"King David in Prayer" (detail) Pieter de Grebber [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

One of the greatest means for deepening and expanding our prayer life is found in Paul’s teaching on our becoming like Christ.   “Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I […]

Let Yourself Be Duped

It often seems that following the Lord means bigger crosses. How is this fair? A Trickster? The first reading for Sunday’s liturgy might sound a little bold to us. Is Jeremiah honestly accusing the Lord of tricking him? Some translations say “seduced” or “deceived.”  Does the Lord trick us? One of my favorite stories about this reading comes from a bishop I […]

From Suffering to Joy

Mission Dolores Altar (San Francisco) Photograph © by Andy Coan

Many years ago, I taught a fourth grade CCD class for my parish religious education department. It was the first evening of classes and I was starting the process of getting everyone introduced to one another when one boy blurted out, “I am going to be your worst nightmare.” He was speaking to me. You could say that I was […]

Graces for Later

“In this darkness, Our Lord has already given you what you need.” One of my favorite parts of the Easter season liturgy is in the preface before the Eucharistic Prayer, when the priest prays, “therefore, overcome with paschal joy…” It’s a reminder to me, every day of Easter, that we are in this season of joy and are called to […]

Standing at the Foot of the Cross

“The obedience at the Annunciation comes to full flower at the foot of the Cross.” “Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala” (Jn 19:25). Mary stands at the foot of the cross. Stabat Mater. She stands there as a mother, watching her son undergo the […]

Finding Joy in the Midst of Sorrow

"Christ's Entry into Jerusalem" by Hippolyte Flandrin

The Cross is the great paradox of Christianity. More than a few people have asked me over the years why the Catholic Church focuses so prominently and persistently on the Crucifix. One inquirer even suggested that the Crucifix hanging above the Altar is too intense a reminder of the sorrow in the world and that she would never join a […]

How to Respond When You Meet Suffering

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

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 […]

The Suffering in Bethany

“Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something to spare this suffering?” The Sunday Gospels in Lent for Year A are particularly poignant and reflective, drawing us into the Lenten mysteries. We can see how the Church values them by the fact that these Gospels may be read at the weekday Masses as […]