Ellen Wilson Fielding

Ellen Wilson Fielding is a writer and former contributing editor to Crisis Magazine.

recent articles

Manic Mortifications

I happened to be reading Fr. Benedict Groeschel’s excellent tour of St. Augustine’s writings shortly before the mass suicide of the Heaven’s Gate cult in 1997. Within a day or two the news reports were giving a fairly clear idea of how to classify the group. Its founder was an ex-Christian who, tormented by homosexuality, … Read more

Dawn Patrol

I am writing this in the Autumn, as the days grow shorter and the night temperatures inch toward the freezing point. When I drive my son around our neighborhood early on Sunday mornings, helping him deliver newspapers before the 7:00 o’clock deadline, we make our way in the dark until the very end, when the … Read more

Last Homely House: On Revisiting Children’s Books

I have loved reading since I first put “see,” “spot,” and “run” together, and so one of the great joys I anticipated from motherhood — not in vain — was the pleasure of revisiting childhood books and being introduced to ones I’d missed the first time around. At first there were board books and Pat … Read more

Common Wisdom: Manic Mortificaitons

I happened to be reading Fr. Benedict Groeschel’s excellent tour of St. Augustine’s writings shortly before the mass suicide of the Heaven’s Gate cult. Within a day or two the news reports were giving a fairly clear idea of how to classify this cult. Its founder was an ex-Christian who, tormented by homosexuality, renounced for … Read more

Common Wisdom: Last Homely House

I have loved reading since I first put “see,” “spot,” and “run” together, and so one of the great joys I anticipated from motherhood— not in vain—was the pleasure of revisiting childhood books and being introduced to ones I’d missed the first time around. At first there were board books and Pat the Bunny and … Read more

Common Wisdom: The Peace of St. Peter

Almost a year has passed since the Holy Father came to say Mass at Camden Yards in Baltimore. His visit reinforced my gratitude to God for blessing my own time—my own catastrophic half of this catastrophic century—with John Paul II. His great natural gifts and transparent devotion have combined to serve well a spiritually needy … Read more

Common Wisdom: Habeas Corpus

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times at my parish this spring. On Palm Sunday I took the kids to the Children’s Mass scheduled before Sunday School and, all set to be harrowed by the traditional reading of the Passion, was harrowed instead by one of those grating liturgical innovations … Read more

Common Wisdom: Nine Months

Around the time I became aware enough of the facts of life to realize that roughly nine months intervened between conception and birth, I also figured out that the Church had cleverly separated the feast of the Annunciation from Christmas by precisely this span. Years later I was expecting the birth of my own firstborn … Read more

Common Wisdom: Dawn Patrol

I am writing this in October, as the days grow shorter and the night temperatures inch toward the freezing point. When I drive my son around our neighborhood early on Sunday mornings, helping him deliver newspapers before the 7:00 o’clock deadline, we make our way in the dark until the very end, when the approaching … Read more

Common Wisdom: Sisters Forever

My sister gave birth to her fourth child a few weeks ago — a beautiful girl, so I’m told. I must wait to see her, since she lives over 200 miles away. Our children alternate with one another in age-10, 9, 8, 7, almost 6, 3-1/2, 2-1/2, newborn. This has serendipitously made the most of … Read more

Common Wisdom: Mid-winter Mass

What a waste of winter it seems when Lent doesn’t begin until March! The Februaries of my childhood are all concentrated into memories of dirty snow and slush, grey-white skies, dark mornings, cold breath. We owned a black cocker spaniel who needed to be walked before schooltime. When the snow was fresh and not yet … Read more

Common Wisdom: Love Strong as Death

“In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. . . . He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world knew Him not. He came to His own home, and His own … Read more

Common Wisdom: Suffering with Body and Soul

It’s hard to read many lives of the saints without suspecting that well-balanced diets and regular dental and medical check-ups were not matters of great moment to them. Many of the saints we venerate most warmly, such as Francis of Assisi, subjected their bodies to severe fasts, nightly vigils, exposure to the elements, and sheer … Read more

Being Fruitful: Imitating the Divine Imprudence

It began when our second child was born—a girl who followed her older brother by two years. “You’ve got your boy and your girl now,” an amazing assortment of people would say. “Now your family is complete.” Sez who? I would think, at first too taken aback and later too irritated to make a forceful … Read more

Common Wisdom: Fast Foods

Each year as Ash Wednesday approaches, I page through my food-stained copy of Evelyn Birge Vitz’s wonderful cookbook of the liturgical year, A Continual Feast. A friend gave it to me when it came out in 1985 (Ignatius Press now carries it), but it stood pristine and unopened on my kitchen shelf for two years … Read more

Common Wisdom: What Child Is This?

Three of my children were born in December, so three times I have entered Advent awaiting, like Mary, the birth of a child. It is a wonderful thing to have the Incarnation brought home so solidly, so inescapably. I think of Mary exchanging remedies for morning sickness or sharing with Nazarean friends the news of … Read more

Common Wisdom: Wise Men From Afar

I must admit that the traditional title of “Wise Men” does little to predispose me toward Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar. It must be the effect of our modern-day “wise men”—philosophers who play with words and shy away from the riskier work of establishing conclusions; deconstructors of language and its meaningfulness; theologians who think it is … Read more

Common Wisdom: Ties That Bind

This election year, which brings me as close to being a purely single issue voter as any I have known, leads me to reflect on the ways in which deeply principled, deeply committed people live out their commitment to the unborn. Contrary to the myths propagated by pro-abortionists, single-issue voters are not usually John Brown-like … Read more

Common Wisdom: Cleanliness Is Next to Godliness

When I was growing up I was exposed to the traditional sort of deep-cleansing household that most of my fellow babyboomers experienced. In addition to the weekly cleaning routine, our house underwent full-scale scrubbing every spring and fall. I helped rub in the special kitchen cabinet cleaner, put down fresh shelf-liner, clean glass light globes … Read more

Common Wisdom: Patient Griselda

There is in Western literature a tenacious old tale about a much-tried woman named Patient Griselda. Boccaccio wrote one version, but the one I know is Chaucer’s; he puts it in the mouth of his Clerk in The Canterbury Tales. Griselda is a beautiful and virtuous peasant girl chosen by Walter, an Italian marquis, as … Read more

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