Holy Week, Ecce Homo, Ecce Us

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My intention with this column was to share some musings on the words of Pontius Pilate as he presented the tortured Jesus”the icon of “extreme humility””to the crowd: “Ecce homo”; behold the man. They have become my Holy Week lectio divina, those two words, prompting me again and again to see the people I observe through a broader lens, one that curves through the light-filled wounds of Christ… . Continue Reading »

It is Worth Asking, “And then what?”

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When the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) raised a reasonable objection to the HHS mandate connected to the Affordable Care Act”a rule which will require all employers (including organizations like the Little Sisters of the Poor and the Sisters of Life) to betray their consciences and include free sterilization coverage and free contraception and antiabortion drugs in their health insurance plans”White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was dismissive. “The bishops,” he asserted, “never supported health care reform to begin with.” … Continue Reading »

Can “Good Faith” Still be Assumed?

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It is now nearly unwatchable in its partisan hackery, but there was a time when I rarely missed Hardball with Chris Matthews. From the late 1990?s to the early-aughts, the program regularly brought together a diverse and energetic panel of pundits who, while rarely in full agreement, could be counted on to offer thoughtful analysis with wit and a surprising amount of civility and good humor… . Continue Reading »

A Mass Less Ordinary

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One of my brothers goes to mass every day of the week, but he does not attend on Sunday. “I love the mass,” he says, “and I can’t stand missing it for a day. But I just can’t take those Sundays. I can’t.” That is ultimately between God, my brother and his pastor, but I sympathize, a little. He is a gregarious sort while I am an introvert, but we share a dislike for busy, noisy, overstimulated worship… . Continue Reading »

A Convergence of Conscience and Command

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Since November, the 2012 election campaigns have become overcrowded with ideas and narratives, some silly, some frankly false and some fractured, leaking lofty nuance like helium. Distractions pay huge dividends, right now. The silly ideas are the ones accompanied by odd hysterics from what Jimmy Breslin used to call “the official women.” … Continue Reading »

Obama Has Stranded the Catholic Left

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“Catholic Left” and “Catholic Right” are inadequate and irksome labels that too often sully all of us with the “ick” of politics even when our churchy disagreements are not rooted in politics at all, but simply upon a difference in vision and emphasis. So stipulating, and resigned to using more scare quotes than I would like, I am struck by what little assist President Obama gave to his friends on the “Catholic Left” with last Friday’s “accommodation” to their concerns with his HHS mandate… . Continue Reading »

The Counter-Cultural Church has a Credible “Yes”

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Last week’s column on the HHS mandate brought a rash of email from the usual suspects”men and women who feel passionately inclined to inform me that the church is “mysogynistic, women-hating, gay-hating, authoritarian, fetus-idolizing…” well, you get the drift. People who could not begin to accurately articulate the church’s position on most matters are quite sure that her counter-cultural stances are grounded on nothing more than hate… . Continue Reading »

Obamacare’s Great Gift: Clarification

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Recently we have learned that under Obamacare”that is, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”employer insurance plans must provide free non-medical contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization for their employees. Free is as affordable as it gets; for an accountability-spurning culture, it’s just the right price, indeed… . Continue Reading »

Is Great Oratory Over and Done?

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The passing of his federal holiday gave me an opportunity to ponder what my friend Lisa Mladinich calls the “holy courage” of Martin Luther King, Jr, who found strength in knowing that his cause was a just one, despite threats, despite difficulties. Watching the old videos, I found myself as moved as ever by his stunning oratory. King was capable of using imagery; he understood the power of cadence; how to energize an idea with the forward-thrust of repetition… . Continue Reading »

Prosperity’s Constant Conflict

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In the Office of readings for January 17 we read of the Abbot’s renunciation of worldly goods, prompted by the scriptural readings of the mass: …entering the church just as the Gospel was being read, he heard the Lord’s words to the rich man: If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor”you will have riches in heaven. Then come and follow me. It seemed to Anthony that it was God who had brought the saints to his mind and that the words of the Gospel had been spoken directly to him… . Continue Reading »