Catholic Census

I never got closer than a football field to Pope Francis when he visited Washington D.C., but it was enough to be around all the people who had also come out to be as close as we could to the pope. My friend from church spotted me and ran over to pray together, I exchanged names with a pair of . . . . Continue Reading »

Postures of Prayer

How ought we to pray? Kneeling, standing, sitting, prostrate? Should we pray out loud, in song, or silently? The most specific instructions we receive in Scripture pertain to the content of our prayers, not to the outward delivery of those prayers. In Matthew 6, when Jesus instructs the disciples . . . . Continue Reading »

Teach Us to Pray

Christians have watched in helpless horror at the release of videos of masked ISIS warriors shooting and beheading Coptic Christians on a lonely stretch of North Africa beach. We can help, by diligent prayer for brothers and sisters who fall victim to Muslim brutes.But how should we pray? Continue Reading »

God of Fire, Man of Prayer

Birmingham is a post-Civil War city founded in 1871 in response to the discovery of one of the world’s richest mineral deposits of iron, coal, and limestone. The abundance of these raw materials led to a thriving steel industry, and Birmingham became the “Pittsburgh of the South.” In the early twentieth century, the leaders of Birmingham commissioned a statue of Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and the forge, to represent the city at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. Today, Vulcan stands 56-feet tall high atop Red Mountain overlooking the city, a symbol of Birmingham’s history. Colossus-like, Vulcan is the largest cast-iron statue in the world, welcoming thousands of visitors every day from near and far. Continue Reading »

Lessons from Lepanto

For months leading up to the Battle of Lepanto, fought on this day 443 years ago, Pope Pius V urged the faithful to pray for military victory against Muslim forces aiming to storm Italy from its Adriatic coast. Specifically, he enjoined Catholics in Europe to pray daily the most holy rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Christian navy prevailed, and on the Roman calendar October 7 was dedicated to Our Lady of Victory. Continue Reading »

Elder Iosef’s Rules for Hermits

Wake at four o’clock, Byzantine time.Attend to yourselves.Recall that all is vanity.Say together Matins.At the First Hour, lift the sunwith open palms.Water now may slake your thirst.Remain here close enough to be seenbut far enough apart to be unheard.As is our custom, the Third Hour.You often . . . . Continue Reading »

A Prayer for Death

We tame the Lord’s Prayer. We have to, so it isn’t nearly as disturbing to us as an incautious reading would reveal. Certainly it is a comfort. We use it for everything. It is often the first prayer we learn in worship and frequently the last to escape our lips. Routinely, we use it to conclude church meetings. That may be a misuse, the prayer being more radical than a mere way to clear out the room, but I’ve done it too. Continue Reading »