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…

Graced Transitions

My children are light sleepers, so when they fall asleep on me in the rocking chair, it can be a real challenge to get them into their crib without waking them up. Over time I’ve learned the delicate art of pressing them close during the transfer. That way, even if the chair and the floor…

The Final Word Is Love: A Year In Review

Roughly a year ago, those of us in the middle of the USA faced the prospect of an extended lockdown. The shelves of Costco were empty of toilet paper and canned goods, and new mask mandates and social distancing requirements were being enacted across the country. And then it felt like everything was just, canceled….

Stations of the Cross for the Pandemic

I wrote these Stations of the Cross with the Covid Pandemic in mind, as both a way to pray for those suffering but also to connect their suffering, and ours, with that of Christ. Each station recognizes the suffering of Christ at his passion, and connects that with a group that is suffering particularly during…

The Great Letting Go

At some point in my mid-thirties I realized I was holding on a little too tightly. It manifested as an unshakeable anxiety about having control over my life, about what I thought I was supposed to be doing. This eventually led was a very Dante-esque experience: Midway through the journey of my life, I was…

A 2020 Epiphany

The births of our first two children were laborious, frantic affairs. Due to long labors and deliveries, the babies were quickly hustled away by the doctors and nursing staff, and we were left too shell-shocked to really cherish the moment. So when our third arrived relatively quickly, smack dab in the middle of the pandemic,…

[I find you, Lord, in all Things and in all]

A poem by Rainer Maria Rilke for the Feast of Christ the King: [I find you, Lord, in all Things and in all] I find you, Lord, in all Things and in allmy fellow creatures, pulsing with your life;as a tiny seed you sleep in what is smalland in the vast you vastly yield yourself….

They can’t touch my soul

Like many Americans, I experienced a fair bit of anxiety over the course of the election. The morning after election night, when the election was still undecided, I headed into Morning Glory Ministries to help with emergency assistance. I was greeted by Carol, a longtime volunteer with a quick wit and lots of hard won…

School of Love

It was at the end of a frazzled-to-the-bone day of parenting, when everything seemed to go wrong. I was rocking my rambunctious 16 month old Georgie, who was uncharacteristically exhausted (he had gotten all the goodie out of the day, and his dad), when he nuzzled in close, pointed to my eye, and said (in…

Holy Ordinary

The holy ordinarya radiant grilled cheeseand flies swarming the dirty diapers A squirrel burst the seed bagate all the sunflower seedsand I cleaned it upwith a rusty spade One quiet moment when the babyfalls to sleepsunlight on the fresh rainreunions after schooland fresh pizza filling the oven If I don’t find You in thisI won’t…

Keeping the Vigil

They didn’t teach me audio engineering or cinematography when I got my Masters in Theology. Maybe they should have, I thought, as lightning flashed through stain glass windows, the transcendent Exsultet echoing through the empty Cathedral. I was desperately attempting to keep a livestream going through a ramshackle conjunction of cameras, cords, blackboxes and an overheating laptop…

Hide and Seek

One thing that struck me in reading the multitude of resurrection narratives is the fact that Jesus rarely appears to large groups, and to those he does appear to he remains, in some mysterious way, still hidden from view. They either don’t recognize him or, when they do, he disappears quickly from their site. And,…

A Good Friday Prayer for a Pandemic

Jesus never stopped praying. Even as he hung on a cross, desperately trying to breathe, his lungs filling with fluid, he never stopped praying. In his most desperate moment, he offered his suffering humanity, our suffering humanity, as a prayer to God. But prayer can be hard, especially if we are feeling stressed or overwhelmed….

Flowers are Everywhere

It has become a sort of rallying cry: “Flowers are everywhere!” “There’s a dandelion growing in the sidewalk!” “There’s a purple tulip!” “There’s a white and orange one!” Suddenly my son William is obsessed with flowers, pointing out every one he knows, and given that he’s grown up in a flower shop, he’s fairly adept…

Lent in the Time of Coronavirus

On March 12th I was supposed to be on a plane to Italy, leading a group of travelers through Rome and Tuscany. It’s part of a small travel company I operate that specializes in tours of Italy, and this trip was centered on the art, spirituality, and life of Michelangelo. So for the better part…

Unraveling that Tangled Knot

For those of you who may be feeling overwhelmed or worried, about war or violence or the general chaotic state of affairs that has become the new normal, I offer this quote, from Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement. I pray it will bring you peace, and that this gift of peace may enable…

A Good Christmas

In a hazy afterglow after Christmas, in the liminal space between the years, when every dying spark of cheer hangs as precariously on our hearts as the ornaments cling to dead and drying trees, we may find ourselves ruminating: was it a good Christmas? In childhood, a good Christmas was decided by good presents. The…

The Stable of the Human Heart

St. Bernard of Clairvaux speaks of Three Advents. The First one we are familiar with, it prepares us for the birth of Christ at Christmas. The Second is Christ’s return at the end of history, or the Second Coming. But the Third Advent is less known, and points to the arrival of Christ to dwell…

Poems for an early snow

Snow DayIf I lived a thousand livesof great honor and renownthis simple day with youwould be the jewel in my crown. 3:22 a.m.At 3:22 a.m. out my back door the ice sparkles a sky full of stars brought lowwhile a baby sleeps above I am grateful for the darkness that allows the frozen fog to…

Divine Mother, Divine Mover: A Marian Spirituality of Pilgrimage

I gave a talk last night at the 1st Annual Mother Mary Dinner at the Precious Blood Renewal Center. It was an inter-religious dinner and dialogue on the figure of Mary in Catholicism and Islam. I spoke about Mary as a Mother, Mover, and Model of Pilgrims. Here is a link to the Presentation itself:…

A Violent Summer

In the fading light of evening my son is speaking of butterflies.  We had just read the old favorite, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and I am admiring the outline of light as it touches his face. He is summarizing in his soft voice: “First, there’s an egg, then a caterpillar comes. Then it eats and…

Preparing for Pilgrimage

I’m gearing up for my semi-annual pilgrimage to Italy. We’ll be visiting Rome, Orvieto, Siena, Florence, Monteriggioni, Lucca, and Vernazza. Itineraries are set, flights and hotels booked, bags are packed, and, true to form, I’m preparing myself mentally for every possible thing that could go wrong. First off, there’s an awful heatwave in Italy that…

The Liturgy of the Sleep-Deprived Hours

In early April we welcomed our son George to the family, and amidst a flurry of changes to our daily and nightly schedule, one thing has remained consistent: we’re tired. Very very tired. But the other great consistency is that I’ve tried to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, or the Divine Office every day….

The Wounded Heart of Holy Week

As Holy Week began, we watched Notre Dame burn. As the fire raged, we watched works of art incinerated, history and heritage swallowed by the flames. The cross was on our mind. We had just read the Passion on Palm Sunday. We had set our faces like flint and looked towards Jerusalem and the cross….

Christ in the Desert, Bored Out of His Mind

Our Gospel for this First Sunday of Lent tells us that Jesus was led into the desert by the Spirit to be tested, where he stayed for forty days and nights, before the Enemy arrived to tempt him. Like the hidden years from his childhood to his baptism, the scriptures tell us nothing about these…

True Joy

This Lenten season is designed to prepare our souls to experience fully the joy of Easter. I can’t think of anyone better to introduce us to this counter-cultural, counter-intuitive fullness of joy than the Poverello, the little Poor One, St. Francis of Assisi. Here’s St. Francis on finding True Joy: One day at Saint Mary’s,…

Love in the Ruins

A cold and wet rain has fallen on Kansas City for two days. I sit outside my usual go-to church for confession and read that the pastor has just had a kidney transplant, please pray for him. I consider going home. After all, I tried, it’s cold and rainy and I’m tired. Moreover, I had…

The Holy Ache of Advent

“The lovely old carols played and replayed till their effect is like a dentist’s drill or a jackhammer, the bathetic banalities of the pulpit and the chilling commercialism of almost everything else, people spending money they can’t afford on presents you neither need nor want, “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” the plastic tree, the cornball creche,…

The Love That Moves The Sun And Stars

God accepts me, just as I am. God loves me, just as I am. God forgives me, just as I am. Therefore, I accept myself just as I am. I love myself just as I am. I forgive myself, just as I am. This was the penance the priest gave me a couple weeks ago…