Comment and Dialogue Articles

  • Vatican website holds plethora of info

    Pope Francis’s extraordinary Aug. 20 letter “to the People of God” undoubtedly inspired many people around the world to seek out this letter — published in seven languages only six days after the Pennsylvania grand-jury report — on the Vatican website. By visiting, you will have before you a most valuable English “portal” to the contents of the site. Read More
  • Human formation — living rightly, living well When good becomes evil

    All evil and all sin comes from pursuing a good in an inappropriate way. When we do this, we hurt ourselves and others. Let’s look at some of the good, and see how it can become evil. Read More
  • The McCarrick mess

    When I was going through school, the devil was presented to us as a myth, a literary device, a symbolic manner of signaling the presence of evil in the world. I will admit to internalizing this view and largely losing my sense of the devil as a real spiritual person. What shook my agnosticism in regard to the evil one was the clerical sex abuse scandal of the nineties and the early aughts. I say this because that awful crisis just seemed too thought-through, too well-coordinated, to be simply the result of chance or wicked human choice. The devil is Read More
  • Human formation — Living rightly, living well Goods

    To understand virtue, let’s begin by understanding our motivations — what do we desire? We are complex creatures, and so we have different longings that we must categorize to appreciate and understand. Philosophers and theologians have identified eight different categories of goods for which we all desire and long. Read More
  • Affirming and celebrating Humanae Vitae

    July 25 was the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, Blessed Paul VI’s encyclical on the integrity of love and the appropriate means of family planning. Issued during the cultural meltdown of the 1960s, and in a year when irrationality stalked the entire Western world, Humanae Vitae instantly became the most vilified act of the papal magisterium in history. And to what should have been their shame, entire national episcopates distanced themselves from Pope Paul’s teaching by a variety of stratagems, many of which exhibited some degree of theological confusion and some of which were downright cowardly. Read More
  • The role of the sacraments in the Interior Life Mary and the interior life

    All the fathers, doctors, saints and spiritual writers indicate essentially the same thing: their desire to belong totally to Mary as the means to belong totally to Jesus, and to place oneself into the hands of Mary that she may lead us to a more perfect union and likeness with Christ. Devotion to Mary is to live in imitation of Jesus’ relationship with Mary that we may become more like him. In the Gospel of Luke at the Annunciation, Jesus entrusted himself entirely to Mary as an embryo in her womb and as a little child in her care. Mary Read More
  • Taking a public health crisis seriously

    The recent tragic deaths of designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain have dramatized what The New York Times calls the “public health crisis” of suicide, underscored when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the U.S. suicide rate increased almost 30 percent from 1999 to 2016. Read More
  • The role of the sacraments in the Interior Life Worthy reception of the Eucharist

    How do we receive the Eucharist in a holy manner? Aside from being in a state of grace, there are practical steps to be taken to benefit the most from this blessed encounter: Read More
  • Where the church stands on death penalty

    Here is a very quick summary of the stance of the Catholic Church on the death penalty. This review is necessary because of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s recent proposal to reinstate capital punishment — abolished in Illinois in 2011 — for persons convicted of mass killings or the homicide of a law-enforcement officer. I write as one who, many years ago, testified before a committee of the Illinois General Assembly about the evolving teaching of the Catholic Church on this topic. Read More
  • The virtues of gardening

    Spring has arrived! The earth is about to enjoy greater warmth and new life awakening within it. When surrounded by vitality, be it a newborn child, a beloved animal, a cheerful friend or a bright sunny day, life is wonderful. Create a garden and yet another wonderful dimension of life’s richness is added. Read More
  • The role of the sacraments in the Interior Life

    It is important to grasp that sanctifying grace is a real transformation of the soul! Luther taught that the soul in grace is wearing the garment of Christ’s merits, which cover the soul like a cloak covers a leprous beggar. The church teaches that the very substance of the soul is renewed. The soul is affected in its very being so that it can genuinely be called a “new creation.” Sanctifying grace gives a new life to the soul, a life with its own new abilities, powers, and destiny, given as a gift from God. Thus, the baptized Christian can Read More
  • The role of the sacraments in the Interior Life

    The elements: actual and sanctifying grace Actual grace: a kind of divine or supernatural thrust or impetus that allows us to act above our own power. This is because our own natural powers are incapable of attaining supernatural rewards. Prior to the reception of sanctifying grace, we need a special help from God, which is called actual grace. Read More
  • A woman rich beyond things

    International Women’s Day in March recalls that many girls and women in developing countries still face huge barriers to an education, are denied rights to ownership of the land they labor on, have no access to health care, suffer regular beatings from their husbands, and are placed in early child marriages resulting in horrendous feminine problems when they give birth. Read More
  • Experiencing emotions of prayer of the heart

    Two weekends ago I enjoyed two different cultural efforts: a concert by the Heartland Community Chorus at St. Jerome Church in Troy (this concert was repeated at Highland St. Paul), and the performance of Annie Jr. by the Drama Club of St. John Neumann School in Maryville. Over many years, I have learned to appreciate the skills and attention needed to sing and act effectively. As a presider at worship, of course, I am always putting my singing into service. And although it has been 20 years since I last performed in a theatrical production, the proclamation of the Word Read More
  • Considering calls to discipleship

    In the Sacred Scriptures the Gospel tells us Jesus first commissioned the Apostles to “Go make disciples.” Then Jesus said, “Baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” At one of our parishes on a recent weekend two children were baptized during Mass and began their journey of faith in the Catholic Church. They felt the blessed water claim them as a child of God, and they were anointed by the sacred oil (chrism) Bishop Thomas John Paprocki blessed at the chrism Mass in March. We lit their candle from the Christ candle and placed the Read More
  • Roe v. Wade derangement syndrome

    The defense of the indefensible often leads to a kind of derangement in otherwise rational people. That was the case with the defenders of slavery and legalized racial segregation; it has become the case with abortion. I’ve long thought that the most callous, coldhearted contribution to the national debate on abortion was penned by the feminist ideologue, Barbara Ehrenreich, in a 1985 column for the New York Times. There, Ehrenreich deplored the “lasting … damage” done by the pro-life movement by “getting even pro-choice people to think of abortion as a ‘moral dilemma,’ an ‘agonizing decision,’ and related code phrases for Read More
  • The role of the sacraments in the Interior Life Conversion

    The spiritual doctors of the church offer us a simple way of understanding the steps along our path to sanctity. In previous articles, we learned about the various stages of prayer: vocal, mental and contemplation. Let’s now simplify the stages and examine our spiritual life in terms of personal conversion. Read More
  • Thinking about the woman at the well

    For me, the story of the Woman at the Well (John 4 4-42) is such a profound example of what author Sherry Weddell calls a “God moment” — where we are blessed to “encounter Christ.” The woman may have come to the well for water, as she did every day, but she would leave with so much more. This day she came around the hour where she knew she would avoid being seen (as she had a past and a reputation) but Jesus was there to meet her. He came to meet her needs. Read More
  • Lectio Divina

    Lectio Divina, or “divine reading,” is another form of mediation by the reading of Scripture in the context of prayer. It is a traditional Benedictine practice intended to promote communion with God and to increase the knowledge of God’s word. It does not treat Scripture as texts to be studied but as the Living Word. Read More
  • Meditation leads to God revealing truths

    First, a few words about Billy Graham. I can remember that, in my youth, I would hear the Rev. Graham and others speaking about “accepting Jesus as your personal Savior.” My reaction was to think that salvation was taken care of by my being part of a “system” of salvation — the Catholic Church. I would wonder, “What’s this personal business?” Read More
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