Freedom and Intellectual Life

What is the point of studying the humanities? The question reflects the current climate among humanist educators: anxiety shading into despair. As enrollments decline, programs are cut, and tenure diminishes, mainstream educational institutions are becoming uncomfortable places for teachers who want . . . . Continue Reading »

Sure, Tell Peter Too

The message the women heard from the “young man” is found in St. Mark (16:5-8). Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome carried their spices to the tomb, thinking to anoint the body of Jesus. Apparently, none of them gave much thought to removing the stone from the entrance, except . . . . Continue Reading »

After the “G-word” has been spoken

In the early Church, witnesses to the faith who had been persecuted and tortured but not killed were known as “martyr-confessors.” It’s been one of the great privileges of my life to have known such men and women: Czech priests who spent years as slave laborers in uranium mines; Lithuanian . . . . Continue Reading »

To Render the Deeds of Mercy

A version of the following talk was given at the Shelbourne Easter Seminar on March 29, 2015. Shakespeare had a Catholic imagination. He loved to write about monastic and religious characters; he had a keen sense of sacramentality in symbol; and his work seemed to reflect the themes of Catholic . . . . Continue Reading »

How the Church Failed Fishtown

The sign outside the church lists a single Sunday Mass time. The bulletin provides details on the other sacraments, available by appointment only, more of a consignment than a convenience. The church is one of two in the parish, clustered together under a single administration, ostensibly for better . . . . Continue Reading »

Katharine Drexel

In my bilingual Catholic parish, the nativist undercurrent of the campaign season looms loudly over the Latinos while the whites discuss the latest battle over religious liberty in hushed shock. This campaign season has people fearing the end of something, be it a way of life, a political party, or . . . . Continue Reading »

In Honor of an Uppity Nun

On one of my first visits to Rome some years ago, I stepped into an elevator on my way to a meeting in the Vatican. I was greeted by a friendly cleric. “Where are you from?” he asked. “Birmingham, Alabama,” I replied. “Oh,” he said in a hushed tone, “do you know Mother Angelica?” I . . . . Continue Reading »

Euthanasia by Organ Harvesting

Shallow are the souls that have forgotten how to shudder.—Leon Kass The ethics of medicine aren’t what they used to be. Sanctity of life? That’s so passé. The Hippocratic Oath? Fuggettaboudit! The modern healthcare system is expected to embrace properly utilitarian perspectives.Take . . . . Continue Reading »

The Visions of St. Faustina

In 1923 a teenager named Helena Kowalska attended a dance in Lodz, Poland. While she danced that evening, a naked Jesus covered in agonizing wounds appeared at her side. “[H]ow long will you keep putting Me off?” He asked her. The music halted and all the people but Jesus disappeared from . . . . Continue Reading »

Trump Is No Pro-Lifer

When candidates for high office are faking it in order to persuade a party's base that, appearances and past record to the contrary notwithstanding, they really, really are “with the program,” they step into dangerous territory. They need to say what the base wants to hear. Indeed, they need to . . . . Continue Reading »