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A Jubilee Year of Mercy

Pope Francis has announced a jubilee Year of Mercy, starting December 8. He is hardly the first pope to stress the importance of mercy. John Paul II spoke about it often and eloquently. But Francis has a special passion for the virtue, likely rooted in his experience of the poor and his affection . . . . Continue Reading »

Olivia Pope and the Virgin Mary

It is Christmas Eve, and Olivia Pope, star of the ABC melodrama Scandal is about to get an abortion. In an episode that aired Thursday night, she lays in the operating bed while the music of “Silent Night” plays. We watch her face run through the emotions of anxiety, uncertainty, and pain while . . . . Continue Reading »

Celibacy in the City

The day after the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage this summer, I was in line for the Ferris Wheel with my three year old daughter. An insufficiently directive ride attendant left me confused as to which car to enter. Do we get our own? Do we pile in with strangers? Whatever our options might . . . . Continue Reading »

Picturing Mary

The new exhibit at Washington D.C.’s National Museum of Women in the Arts, “Picturing Mary: Woman, Mother, Idea,” conceived even before the museum’s birth in 1987, opened this year at long last, just in time for the feast of the Immaculate Conception. The exhibit, which will continue until Easter, is under the curatorship of Msgr. Timothy Verdon, director of the Cathedral Museum of Florence, Italy and a leading scholar of Marian art. Continue Reading »

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 »

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