Comment and Dialogue Articles

  • Mental Prayer or Meditation

    Just as you and I get to know people by meeting, listening and speaking to them, so in meditation we get to know God by conversing with him in a quiet place. “When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father in the secret place.” Matthew 6:6. We listen to God speaking to us through the beauties of nature, Sacred Scripture, the texts of the Liturgy and the lives and writings of the saints. In meditation, we ponder what Jesus says to us in all of these ways and then we respond with our Read More
  • Hope in the year 2018

    When Isaiah speaks of a bear and cow being neighbors and a baby sitting aside a viper (Is 11:1-9), what message is he sending for us in 2018? At first look his examples symbolize peaceful coexistence. That which seems unlikely is now likely; direct opposites uniting as one. The derivation of the word “peace” comes from the word “pact.” Isaiah envisions a world desirous of making covenants that create peaceful existence. Read More
  • Journaling may get the jumble of one’s thoughts ‘out in the open’

    Thus far, in surveying types of prayer with the help of Bishop Ken Untener’s discussion in the Little Books of the Diocese of Saginaw, I have looked at verbal prayer and prayer which is essentially reflection on reading the Sacred Scriptures. Before moving into meditation (thinking), I want to consider an activity which contains elements of reading and thinking. Read More
  • Prayer defined by the saints

    What is prayer? What is its purpose? St. Theresa of Avila says, “Prayer is to realize how much it means to you to have God’s friendship and how much he loves you.” She also says, “Prayer is when we raise our hearts and minds to God.” St. Therese of Liseux offers this beautiful explanation about prayer: “For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look, turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.” Read More
  • Your New Year’s resolution

    One of the best ways to be faithful to the Lord is to take him at his word: “Be not afraid.” This is a call to courage. Jesus is asking you to be calm in the storm of life, not only for your own peace of mind, but for the well-being of your loved ones. You can decide to present the face of Christ to them, by showing them your faith in his strength. It’s normal to worry about the future. The threat of war looms all around us. North Korea, Iran, Isis, they all pose serious threats to our Read More
  • Pillars lived out in Charleston’s Catholic community

    Two weeks ago I was welcomed to the Charleston Catholic community to offer the weekend Masses and also offer an Advent mission. Charleston is blessed by having a wonderful parish family of St. Charles Borromeo as well as the Eastern Illinois University Catholic Newman Center community. Father Hyland Smith is their young and energetic pastor, and is loved and well-respected by those he serves. Roy Lanham has served the EIU Newman community for over 32 years, and has a great connection to the college students. Read More
  • The intersection of time and God’s timelessness

    Many of us seem to have been taken aback by the occurrence of Advent and Christmas this year. First of all, there is the matter of Dec. 25 falling on a Monday. This means, of course, that the Fourth Sunday of Advent will be Dec. 24, and, after the regular Sunday Masses, we go immediately into the Christmas Masses on Sunday evening. Read More
  • Join the revolution of tenderness this Christmas season

    TED is a media organization that posts online talks under the slogan “ideas worth spreading.” Earlier this year Pope Francis surprised the world by digitally giving his own TED Talk at the organization’s annual conference in Vancouver. In his nearly 20-minute talk, our Holy Father challenged his listeners to ignite a much-needed revolution of tenderness in our world. Read More
  • This Advent, let’s herald the Good News

    As I grew up I really enjoyed reading the Litchfield News Herald which kept me informed about all the important news of what was happening in both Montgomery County and my own Macoupin County in central Illinois. In my early years of priesthood I was assigned to St. Mary Parish (now Blessed Sacrament) in Quincy of Adams County, where I enjoyed keeping up with the area happenings by reading the Quincy Herald–Whig. Both these papers were excellent in my humble opinion. Read More
  • Divine reading or lectio divina: time with the Word of God

    Returning now to a survey of kinds of prayer, I am taking a look at “divine reading,” or, if you like the Latin expression, lectio divina. This is essentially a process of spending time with portions of the Bible. We may find it forbidding to contemplate a journey through the Scriptures. We may suppose that Biblical literature is so vast and varied that we cannot help but become utterly disoriented when we try to explore the literature on our own. Read More
  • Pilgrimage to Wichita: harvest of inspiration and hope

    As I mentioned last issue, some 65 “intentional disciples” from the Springfield diocese traveled to the Spiritual Life Center in Wichita, Kan., for a three-day conference/mini retreat on “Discipleship as a Way of Life.” In this issue, I asked another guest columnist, Carlos Tejeda, director of the diocesan Office for Marriage and Family Life in the Department for Vocational Services, to share his experiences of attending this great conference. Read More
  • Become the body of Christ, get involved in your parish

    When I lived in Alaska, I was an extraordinary minister of holy Communion to the homebound. Looking back, I’m rather amazed that I volunteered for this task, which often took me on ice-clogged roads that meandered haphazardly into the snowy hillsides of Anchorage. The years have turned me into a much more timid driver. Read More
  • Discovering true Christian stewardship in Wichita

    Discovering true Christian stewardship in Wichita Recently 65 “intentional disciples” from the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois traveled to the Spiritual Life Center in Wichita, Kan., for a three-day conference/mini retreat on “Discipleship as a Way of Life.” Our experience was truly amazing. Some of the Wichita diocese’s best and most committed “disciples” came to speak to us on stewardship and discipleship. Most of all we witnessed by their very presence how to live “Discipleship as a Way of Life.” You could see very clearly how the four pillars of hospitality, prayer, formation and service have become this way of life for these evangelizing disciples. It Read More
  • Respect Life Month: Be not afraid. We’re in this together

    Each October we observe Respect Life Month in dioceses around the United States. This year’s theme is “Be Not Afraid,” but of what, or whom, are we supposed to not be afraid? Pondering this question, I recalled an experience I had while attending the Convocation of Catholic Leaders in Orlando last summer. I met a young woman and her mother from my diocese. The daughter, who had an obvious disability and was using a power wheelchair, had been chosen as a delegate to the convocation; her mother, a college professor, was there as her assistant. Read More
  • The Catechism of the Catholic Church at 25

    John Paul II called the Extraordinary Synod of 1985 to assess what had gone right and what had gone wrong in two decades of implementing the Second Vatican Council. In Vaticanese, it was styled “extraordinary” because it fell outside the normal sequence of synods. But Synod-1985 was extraordinary in the ordinary sense of the word, too.  Read More
  • The Spirit within us allows history to happen

    In July, at my first meeting of the steering committee of the Metro-East Interfaith Partnership, a Baha’i member mentioned the Buckminster Fuller Center at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. On Aug. 31, I was in the Fuller Center for the first time, as I had been asked by the Newman Club at SIUE to hear confessions that evening. Fifty years ago, the geodesic dome, which Fuller patented in 1954, came into great prominence. The U.S. pavilion at Expo 67 in Montreal was one of the outstanding symbols of that World’s Fair. The SIUE dome was built under Fuller’s direction in 1971; Read More
  • Handing on the faith — discipleship in action

    Calhoun County is an amazing area which is filled with many strong stewards in our Catholic diocese. I was presider at five liturgies there while preaching the Good News and offering the invitation to grow deeper in the Lord’s call for us to become true “intentional disciples.” My first Mass was kind of unique. The Saturday 4 p.m. Mass at Kampsville was filled with many good folks, and so many came from many other parishes as this was the “earliest Mass option” in the area. A very nice man came to me and said, “Father, you probably won’t have servers. Read More
  • No matter what else, we all have talent to share

    Anyone who knows me knows of my love for music and my love for singing, which I developed at an early age. I do not have the gift of playing any instrument, but have been given a gift to use my voice to sing. I know many of you who are reading this have this same gift. As I write this article I have my mom close to my heart as today is the 15th anniversary of her death. One of my fondest memories was most every night around 5:30 our dinner was made and being warmed in the oven. Read More
  • Where are you, and where are you going?

    For a real conversion there is no need for long homilies on the world’s evil or the evils hidden in your life. Few words are enough for Jesus to change the direction of your steps … just one question to pierce your heart. This Gospel passage is illuminated by one simple question: “Where?” The question of every quest, every treasure hunt that kids play and we ourselves play whenever we lose something: a ring, our glasses, the direction of our life. Where? Where are you, and where are you going? To ask “where” is to enter a deeper awareness of Read More
  • Serviam: a Franciscan tradition in ‘T-Town’

    For many years Ursuline Academy in Springfield had as its motto Serviam, which is Latin for service (serve). A large part of the Christian formation of the UA students was centered on offering “service” in the church and the community. Often, in the sacrament of confirmation programs of formation for young adults, one of the important components is completing “service hours.” Often parents (not the youth) would ask if a certain task would be “counted” as falling under the umbrella of “Christian service.” Read More
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