Comment and Dialogue Articles

  • 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
  • Our mother church, our diocese

    Continuing my sharing from my last column I want to help break down the walls some have built up in regard to each of our parishes and their relationship to the diocese. Our Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield is our mother church for all 129 parishes. Together we make up what is called the “see” of Springfield in Illinois. First the Diocese of Quincy, then the Diocese of Alton, the see was transferred to become the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois in 1923. Read More
  • Mental prayer: Some tips for building the habit of daily meditation

    The following points can be of help in growing closer to Jesus if you find it difficult in getting into a habit of daily mediation. Read More
  • The four ‘Rs’ of meditation

    St. Theresa of Avila mentioned that without a book written for spiritual reading on her lap, she found meditation almost impossible. The following is based on and inspired by her instruction to her nuns on how to practice meditation: Read More
  • A great motto: ‘I come to serve’

    Thirty-five years ago we would be reading the writings of Bishop Joseph A. McNicholas in the Time & Eternity diocesan newspaper. As we would get closer to spring and the “Cardinal/Cub” contest, folks all over the diocese wrote to Bishop McNicholas (a Cardinal fan) making their predictions for the upcoming year. It really was a great way for him to connect with the flock and fans over the 28 Illinois counties that make up our diocese. Read More
  • People of different faiths need to have conversations with one another

    When I moved to Madison County in July, it was my intention to get involved with the Metro East Interfaith Partnership (MEIP). I was surprised when I received an invitation to join their steering committee. My reaction was: You don’t want a newcomer to be on your steering committee, do you? But this is how I was welcomed, and I have been on the steering committee since my arrival. Read More
  • 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
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