The triumph of goodness

The stone which rolled away from the tomb of Jesus continues to roll away from every sort of grave. Goodness cannot be held, captured or put to death. It evades its pursuers, escapes capture, slips away, hides out, even leaves the churches sometimes, but forever rises, again and again, all over the world. Such is the meaning of the Resurrection.

How the soul matures

In a deeply insightful book, The Grace of Dying, Kathleen Dowling Singh shares insights she has gleaned as a health professional from being present to hundreds of people while they are dying. Among other things, she suggests that the dying process itself, in her words, “is exquisitely calibrated to automatically produce union with Spirit.”

The cries of finitude

At a workshop recently we were asked to respond to this question: When do you most naturally feel compassion in your heart? For me, the answer came easily. I am most moved when I see helplessness, when I see someone or something helpless to tend to its own needs and to protect its own dignity.

God’s inexhaustibility

The movie “Of Gods and Men” tells the story of a group of Trappist monks who make a painful decision not to flee the violence in Algeria in the 1990s and are eventually martyred by Islamic extremists. The diaries of one of those monks, Christophe Lebreton, chronicling the last three years of his life, was published under the title “Born from the Gaze of God: The Tibhirine Journal of a Martyr Monk.”

A shirt of flame

They say that the book you most need to read finds you when you most need to read it. I’ve had that experience many times, most recently with Heather King’s book Shirt of Flame: A Year with Saint Therese of Lisieux.

The need for silence

The Belgian spiritual writer Bieke Vandekerckhove comes by her wisdom honestly. She didn’t learn what she shares from a book or even primarily from the good example of others. She learned what she shares through the crucible of a unique suffering, being hit at the tender age of 19 with a terminal disease that promised not just an early death but also a complete breakdown and humiliation of her body en route to that death.

The crib and the cross: Connecting the dots

The Gospel stories about the birth of Jesus are not a simple retelling of the events that took place at the stable in Bethlehem. In his commentaries on the birth of Jesus, the Scripture scholar Raymond Brown highlights that these narratives were written long after Jesus had already been crucified and had risen from the dead and that they are colored by what his death and resurrection mean.

Listen to Jesus, speak in parables

Some years ago I was challenged by a bishop regarding an article I’d written. We were talking in his office and the tone eventually got a little testy: “How can you write something like that?” he asked. “Because it’s true,” was my blunt reply. He already knew it was true, but now, realizing that, he became more aware of his real agenda: “Yes, I know it’s true, but that doesn’t mean it should be said in that way in a Catholic newspaper like ours. This isn’t a university classroom or the New York Times. It’s a diocesan newspaper and that’s not the best context within which to say something like that. It will confuse a lot of readers.”

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