Mary on the Prairie

The city of Bismarck was founded in 1872 in what was then the Dakota Territory, at a bend in the Missouri River where Lewis and Clark had stopped on their famous expedition to the West. Bismarck was chosen as the city’s name after the German chancellor Otto von Bismarck in hopes of luring German settlers and German investments to a part of the world far removed from the Rhineland. And the settlers came, Germans and others, attracted in part by a gold rush in the Black Hills not far away. Continue Reading »

Mary's Most Loyal Children

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a solemn feast day and a holy day of obligation that we celebrate each year on August 15th, is the Church’s most ancient Marian feast. Christians living in Jerusalem celebrated the “dormition of Mary” (Mary’s going to sleep) from at least the third century—gathering in Palestine to remember the Mother of God, and to honor her as queen of heaven and earth. Continue Reading »

When the Bible Became a Musical

As a rule, I don’t like musicals. Well, it’s not “as” a rule. It is a rule. I do not like musicals. I never watched Glee, unless the women at my house were monopolizing the television. I walked out of The Sound of Music; something about Maria racing to the top of a hill singing with no hint of asthmatic reaction ruined it for me. I did stay through Les Misérables, though dying people singing tend to annoy me, but it was operatic and no one was asking me to believe that perfectly ordinary people frequently burst into spur-of-the-moment song. I never break into spontaneous song, not if someone might be listening. Why should anyone else? Continue Reading »

Martha, Martha

Martha Stewart is not happy with the blogosphere. Last week, in an interview with Bloomberg News she griped  Who are these bloggers? They’re not trained editors at Vogue magazine. I mean, there are bloggers writing recipes that aren’t tested, that aren’t necessarily very good, . . . . Continue Reading »

Three Prayers

I rarely pray to Christ. His sacrifice was so perfect, it’s far beyond my ken. I’m one of those who have denied Him thrice but take His bread and wine, then say amen. I pray three ways, first to the Holy Ghost in charge of poets who would serve the Lord, then to St. Michael, head of . . . . Continue Reading »

The Virgin Mary’s Spiritual Lessons

I love the Feast of the Assumption. The readings for the day include a dragon ready to devour the son of the sun-clothed Queen of Heaven. And then there is the magnificat, the Virgin Mary’s hymn of thanksgiving and praise: “My soul doth magnify the Lord; and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my savior.” … Continue Reading »

Delivered From All Stain

“Yeah, right” is the way my the more irenic of my Evangelical friends react to the Immaculate Conception, the feast day of which (a holy day of obligation) we celebrate on Wednesday. A few will go so far as to say something like “Whatever floats your boat,” while others react with something like horror or disgust. Very few, in my experience, has a very good idea of the dogma to which they’re reacting… . . Continue Reading »

What the Assumption Means

As a small contribution to ecumenical understanding, on this sixtieth anniversary of the promulgation of the doctrine of the Assumption in  Munificentissimus Deus, here is a section from my book Discovering Mary explaining what the pope said in defining it. It is, let me stress, only a “just . . . . Continue Reading »