The Marginal King

Reflection for Give Us This Day, on the readings for the Feast of Christ the King: Jesus might have been a more palatable earthly king if he bothered to act like one. Kings and queens, after all, need to make some compromises here and there. King David, for example, reconciles with the elders of Israel…

Onto Something

“To become aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair.” – Walker Percy, “The Moviegoer” In 2016 I awoke from under heavy anesthesia, and the phrase “Incarnation is Everywhere” came to me. I had just donated bone marrow, via a surgical…

The Call You Don’t See Coming

From the September 2022 issue of Give Us This Day: Have you ever sensed a calling even before you were ready to hear it? Maybe a career you once loved suddenly becomes shallow and repetitive, or your heart is seized with a surprising desire for fulfillment beyond paying the bills. Perhaps the reality of our…

It is good to hope in silence

In today’s morning prayer from Give Us This Day, the scripture verse from Lamentations counseled: “It is good to hope in silence/ for the Lord’s deliverance.” It struck me, while praying with it, how often we hope quite loudly. And our hope might even sound a little, well, whiny. It might even become a litany…

Through All Generations

Reflection on the daily readings for Give Us This Day, June 21st, 2022, Memorial of St. Aloysius Gonzaga: When I first started teaching high school theology, I was a mess. Arriving fresh from graduate school, on fire with a love for the Gospel and for social justice, I struggled to communicate what was in my…

Evil is not inevitable

It wasn’t a particularly inspiring line from yesterday’s Gospel that stuck with me during my prayer: “The ruler of this world has been condemned.” And yet there it was, nearly jumping of the page. I thought, perhaps, it connected with some of the research I was doing on the New Testament understanding of salvation. Certainly,…

Sundowning and Sacred Memory

Today would have been my grandpa William’s 105th birthday. He only died six years ago so he lived a good long life. But, a good long life, when it ends, leaves a large void, no matter how ready they were to depart, or how long they walked beside us. After my grandpa died, I took…

Washing His Feet

He limped in off the street, leaning on a wheelchair that had “2nd Floor Pain Clinic” written on the seat. On the back, it just said “PAIN” in large letters. We had just endured twelve days of subzero temperatures in Kansas City, with lows in the negative teens. At Morning Glory Ministries, a social outreach…

When the Good News Seems Grim

If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23 This is a frightening prospect. To be entirely dispossessed of everything that is not Christ, leaning more and more on him, entering every more deeply into the suffering of others: the sick, the…

Is hope possible?

I went to bed with a heavy heart last night. War, violence, and terror, once again. I remember watching the towers fall on live TV, my senior year of high school. I remember my college experience shaded by the war on terror, the destruction of Iraq and the long quagmire in Afghanistan. When I graduated,…

A Jesus Prayer

Jesus My life, my love, and my hope I am beset by many anxieties as I walk the well trod path behind you. Jesus You asked me to follow youa long time agoand I havethrough times of bitter painand searing fearto delightful oases of rest,and peace,and joyful service. Jesus Help me not to lose hopeor…

Covid, Peace, and Panic

I finally caught the old Covid. Well, I guess technically it’s the new Covid, the Omicron kind that doesn’t go into the lungs, thankfully. But it wasn’t fun in the head and sinuses either. At first I had to isolate for a few days from my family and from the outside world. That was, well,…

In the Sight of Such Love

“You are my beloved . . . with you I am well pleased.” I find, even among people of faith, a certain reticence to being told they are God’s beloved. We often sidestep the issue: “Well, God only loves Jesus like that, not me.” Even now, as you’re reading this, you might be squirming a…

Into the Littleness

“Dear sister or brother, if, as in Bethlehem, the darkness of night overwhelms you, if you feel surrounded by cold indifference, if the hurt you carry inside cries out, “You are of little account; you are worthless; you will never be loved the way you want”, tonight, if this is what you are feeling, God…

Begin Again

“Let us begin again, sisters and brothers, for up until now we have done little or nothing,” St. Francis of Assisi was fond of saying often. He even supposedly said it on his deathbed, as his “Sister Death” drew near. As Christmas draws near, and the New Year soon after, it might be helpful to…

Everything Afire

“Earth’s crammed with heaven,And every common bush afire with God,But only he who sees takes off his shoes;The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.” ― Elizabeth Barrett Browning Don’t pluck too many blackberries this Advent, or this one precious life. At some point, awaken to the fiery presence of God in everything around you, hidden…

Ocean of Love

“One day while I was praying, I lost all sense of God’s presence,” he said, and I could hear the pain in his voice. “It was just me, alone, talking to an empty room. Just talking to myself.” We were at coffee, talking about faith, and about how sometimes spiritual growth can feel more like…

Our Beloved Dead

For All Souls’ Day, 2021 The souls of the just are in the hand of God,    and no torment shall touch them.They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead;    and their passing away was thought an affliction    and their going forth from us, utter destruction.But they are in peace.For if before men,…

A Quiet Luminosity

When I was young I was attracted to power, and to powerful people: pro football stars, wealthy superheroes, politicians, business owners, and world leaders. Real or fictional, I loved the idea of people who could make things happen, who could get what they wanted out of life and affect change, people who could “leave their…

Teresa of Jesus

“Let nothing disturb you,Let nothing frighten you,All things are passing away:God never changes.Patience obtains all thingsWhoever has God lacks nothing;God alone suffices.” For many, the word MYSTIC can conjure up images of stained-glass saints and ragged ascetics, or some VIP class of Christian who claims to have exclusive spiritual experiences of God, Christ, or Mary….

A Listening Church

“The Synod offers us the opportunity to become a listening Church, to break out of our routine and pause from our pastoral concerns in order to stop and listen. The Synod offers us the opportunity to become a Church of closeness, that does not stand aloof from life, but immerses herself in today’s problems and…

An Evening Prayer

May He support us all the day long,till the shades lengthen and the evening comes,and the busy world is hushed,and the fever of life is over,and our work is done.Then in His mercy may He give us a safe lodging,and a holy restand peace at the last.Amen. —John Henry Newman (1801–1890) “Hail Mary, the Jesus…

Growing Pains

From the Fall 2021 Catholic Key Magazine: https://catholickey.org/2021/09/09/growing-pains/ A season of transition has descended on our family. My oldest boy is starting kindergarten, I’m changing jobs, and the whole family is moving. It’ll mean some big changes for all of us, and the end of a really wonderful chapter in our life together. Often, when…

The Soul Knows

I will be celebrating my birthday this week and well, dear friends, it’s been a year. A new baby, a new job, a new house, an old pandemic, and on and on and on. On the bright side, I am now well into my late 30s, and I have finally discovered that life does not…

Sunset at the Cathedral

My day begins with a quick dip into the office, where I talk to my hermanitas (I am hermanito) about everything going on in our lives. In just a few short years (and a once in a lifetime global pandemic), we have become as much a family as a workplace, which is to say that…

Face to Face

When we gaze into the eyes of someone we love and cherish, it’s hard not to see God. The light we see in these faces, and the love they evoke in us, reminds us of God’s loving, sustaining presence in our lives. But when we feel alone or abandoned, it’s hard to imagine that God…

Pilgrim Parents

It’s 3 a.m. and I wake to screaming. Bleary-eyed, I fumble around for the baby monitor. I can’t see a thing in the sunbright display, so I close my eyes and listen: “Waaaaaaa!” Which baby is that? “WAAAAAAAAA!!!!” I still can’t tell. Was that a raspy and sweet cry, or a shrill and loud cry?…

Little Blessings

Before I got married I asked my father to give me his blessing. I had already asked my future father-in-law’s permission, and he had given it along with a lot of love and support. But for some reason, I needed my father to bless me. I’m not sure where it came from, what part deep…