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…

Wounds & Wolves

Driving a long a narrow stretch of Kansas highway last spring, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the sunset, the narrow crescent of the moon hanging in a blue-orange sky and the emerging stars and planets. Below them however, I noticed the telltale signs of another prison: concrete boxes with narrow slits of windows…

Five Ways to Survive (Yet Another) Church Crisis

The current crisis in our church has left many Catholics feeling emotionally and spiritually drained, and despair or cynicism may sound like very tempting options. But there are some alternatives to packing it up or going full nihilist. Here’s five tips for spiritually surviving (yet another) Church crisis. Find Some Spiritual Shelter As in all…

From the Archives: We Need Victim-Centered Reform

In October of 2010 I wrote in US Catholic about the clericalism, arrogance, and triumphalism at the heart of the sex abuse cover up in the Catholic Church. Due to the current mess, here is it is again: Why we need victim-centered reform.   During his visit to the United Kingdom last month, Pope Benedict publicly acknowledged…

Church & State: When it all falls apart

In the middle of our current mess in the Catholic Church, and our country, corresponding perfectly to my own mini midlife crisis, accusations fly, ideological battle lines are drawn, and I try, desperately, to regain my footing on something solid. I remember, in my 20s, seeing Thomas Cole’s collection of paintings The Voyage of Life on…

Our Lady of the Way

Happy Feast of Our Lady of the Way! Also known as Madonna Della Strada. She is patroness of the Jesuits and my own personal go-to when life is full of changes. Madonna Della Strada Chapel at Loyola University Chicago is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and I was lucky enough to spend…

A Holy Triduum in Prison

On Wednesday of Holy Week I visited prison with some friends from a group called Bethany. They are made up of lay people and the most extraordinary women of the Sisters of Charity Leavenworth, who have been ministering to men in prison for over 20 years.   Because the men will celebrate Easter Sunday on…

This Great Mess

Yesterday I was running with my son’s stroller, empty, on my way to pick him up from his grandma’s (I repeat, the stroller was empty). I was careening down a hill when the front wheel began to wobble, and just as a car was passing me and in front of a host of utility workers,…

For Gramps

Dear Gramps, We’ve had a lot of great conversations over the years, I remember chatting with you in my old truck about your time in Washington DC and Chicago. You seemed so mythical back then, an eternal patriarch that had seen and done it all. When I followed in your footsteps and went to Chicago,…

The Resurrection is Everywhere

In the face of violence, obscene politicking, and all our seemingly insurmountable divisions, I propose no solutions. It is all above my pay grade. I cannot think a way out of any these disasters. In the face of a world gone mad, for now, I can only be silent. I can only try to see with clear…

The Frontier of Fatherhood: Mirroring the Mystery

Holding my baby boy in my arms a mere 4 hours after meeting him, I started crying. Not because of his awkward little dimples, not because of his tiny toes, not because of my same blue eyes staring back at me from within his tiny little face. I started crying because I realized how all the little…

Stephen Colbert, Supernovas, and why we need real stars

I love Stephen Colbert. He is incisively hilarious, intellectually serious, and genuine and respectful with everyone he interviews. But more importantly, I think he appeals to the better angels of our nature. In the above clip, he has Professor of Theoretical Physics Briane Greene on his show to explain supernovas, the process of star implosion…

The beauty of blood sucking things

Perpetually ruining that wonderful time of evening when the baby is sleeping and a cold cocktail rests in my hand is the thought, “I wonder what happens if a stray bullet flies through the nursery window?” My heart races, chest gets heavy. A midnight creak must be a burglar or serial killer downstairs who specializes in families. Or maybe it’s mouse,…

William, William, and the Beautiful Impermanence of Summer

Update: Last night,  my beloved Grandpa William Joseph Rakers passed away. . Although he lived a long good life of 99 years, we feel a great loss. I wrote this five months ago and now as the leaves fall and the weather changes, it rings especially true. Last night I went home and snuggled up to…

On donating bone marrow, or, the small man learns a lesson

I never really got the Feast of Corpus Christi. Sure, I’m a big fan of the Catholic sacraments and all, but it just seemed unnecessary. Don’t we celebrate the Body and Blood of Christ every Sunday, even every day? But it finally clicked a few weeks ago. I was prayfully considering donating bone marrow, as…

The incarnation is everywhere

Dedicated to exploring all the marvels of this universe as revealed to us by the scientific method, philosophy, and the ancient and modern religious traditions. I write from the Catholic perspective, but remain open to all that is true and good and beautiful. After all, the incarnation is everywhere.