Lent

On Comfort and Tribulation

St. Thomas More’s A Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation is a classic of prison literature. Arrested in 1534, More wrote his Dialogue while in the Tower of London during that same year, as he awaited his trial and execution the following summer. More’s book deserves attention this Holy Week as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to … Read more

Joining Our Lady at the Foot of the Cross

Very early in this Lent of 2020, we celebrate a votive Mass, which invites us to take our place at the foot of the Cross with the Mother of Sorrows. Popular piety has identified seven “dolors” of the Blessed Virgin: the prophecy of Simeon; the flight into Egypt; the loss of the Boy Jesus; the … Read more

A Review of Robert Frost’s “In Neglect” for Lent

When Robert Frost forswore both academic degrees and farm life to write poetry, he wrote a poem about himself and his wife as a response to the disappointment of his family. The poem is called “In Neglect,” and it describes well anyone who spent their Lent in a worthy manner. “In Neglect,” both brief and … Read more

To Fast Well, Understand Hunger

I’ve spent about two-thirds of the Lents of the last few decades either pregnant or nursing. In other words, holding a get-out-of-fasting-free card. But since my late 40s just rolled around, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to draw that card again. Which is why I had to face the truth last Lent that I’m … Read more

Tuning in to the Call of God

“When God calls you to do something,” the speaker cautioned, “your only response is, yes.” I saw a number of heads nodding in agreement, but I sensed a question stirring in the heads of others: “But how do I know when God is calling?” It’s an important question. In fact, there is no question more … Read more

“Bless Me Father For I Have Sinned”

Vainly do men of our time seek remedies for the cultural maladies affecting us. Each exertion of the political elite or the bien pensant only seem to deepen their woes. Faced with such existential crisis modern men seek corrupting escapes or the violence of bankrupt political extremism. Indeed, these things assume the kind of devotion … Read more

This Lent, What Tops Your Bucket List?

Lent is a season that brings us full face with the Great Paradox: To live, I must die. It is a supreme spiritual truth meant not to paralyze us, but to prompt us to ponder: “In dying, how should I live?” In the last few years, the hanging statement, “Before I die I want to … Read more

The Desert Fathers and the Geography of the Human Heart

“The crown of the monk is humility.”  ∼ Abba Orr, Desert Father, fourth century. The Lenten season is well underway and it would be difficult to find devotional writings more aligned with the spirit of Lent than the words of the Desert Fathers. Two volumes come to mind: The Sayings of the Desert Fathers, translated by … Read more

Lent and the Great Paradox

As eighteenth century English writer Samuel Johnson might have put it, “Nothing concentrates the mind like knowing that I am dust, and to dust I shall return.” And nothing is a more bracing reminder of that reality than the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday. Placed on the forehead in the form of the cross, … Read more

Prepare Well in Advance for Divine Mercy Sunday

Divine Mercy Sunday is April 8, 2018, the Octave Day of Easter. Devotion to Divine Mercy has been growing worldwide for many years and was added to the calendar of the universal Church in 2000, the year St. John Paul II canonized St. Faustina Kowalska. St. Faustina Kowalska was a nun who, in the 1930s, … Read more

Preparing for a God Encounter this Lent

Lent, the penitential season of prayer, self-examination, and repentance prepares us for the celebration of Easter and our heart’s deepest desire: an encounter with the risen Lord. Few songs convey that longing like Paul Baloche’s Open the Eyes of My Heart. Over half of the lyrics consist of the title appeal, followed by the reason: … Read more

Escaping the Cross: The Ugliest Temptation

Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Protestants are spending their Sunday mornings in football size stadiums. Not for sports, but to listen to their ministers preach the “Gospel of Success.” This new twist on the holy gospels renders the revelation of Our Lord as a guarantee of prosperity, good fortune, and freedom from pain … Read more

A Spiritually Meaningful Lent After Mardi Gras

When I was a kid, my siblings and I always felt short-changed on Fat Tuesday. Lent loomed on the horizon, with no sweets for forty days until we got a motherlode of chocolate eggs for Easter. It seemed like we should be able to pig out on Fat Tuesday, since, obviously, it was our last … Read more

A Question of Perspective

I recently took my nine-year-old son, Karol, to the National Gallery of Art here in Washington. I knew that a nine-year-old’s idea of a fun Sunday was not necessarily looking at art, but I thought he needs some exposure to it and we can do it in limited amounts, maybe once a month. Besides, I … Read more

The Ballad of Judas Iscariot and the Burden of Lent

Lent is a burden and a blessing. It calls Catholics to crawl beneath the weight of themselves to the Cross of Christ and come face to face with who they are. No one will be content with that vision. Most would rather hide from themselves, burying their being deep beneath distractions and denials. Lent is … Read more

It is the Story of Everyone

My grandfather—who loved telling stories and who, in his last years, would endlessly retell the same stories—was particularly partial to the story of the fellow who, condemned to hang for his crimes, was nevertheless permitted a bit of exercise the day before. “In that case,” the prisoner asks the judge, “may I just skip the … Read more

A Lenten Meditation on an Unconventional Ash Wednesday

As I went to the local supermarket this Ash Wednesday, I was surprised by a table outside on the sidewalk with two men in clerical collars. The sign said it all: “Ashes to Go.” They were administering ashes to shoppers. I had already received my ashes from the priest at church, but I politely asked … Read more

Discovering Our Own Sinfulness

Some people say we never hear about sin any more. Not true. It’s just that they are not the familiar sins listed in the Catechism: stealing, lying, missing Mass on Sunday—and especially nothing about sexual sin. Yet we do hear about sins all the time—in the news, on talk shows, and in every kind of … Read more

While Only God is Good, Everyone Can Be Perfect

The sonorous start of Lent jolts with the reminder that man is dust and shall return to dust. It is hardly what we call news: before there were calendars and clocks or Donne’s tolling bell, Abel learned it when Cain struck him. Even the immortals of our civic pantheon and postage stamps were immortalized by … Read more

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