Four Ways to Recreate This Summer

As we move into the summer season, let’s consider recreation—as in play, amusement, or leisure. How can we recreate? 1. Turn off all your screens. Because I work on words all day, I often relax by watching TV or movies—mostly from eras past or from other countries. But too much screen time—whether television, computer, or phone—actually sets us into a passive frame of mind. True recreation involves action of some sort. It may be minimal […]

Living Out the Beatitudes, Part Two

In Pope Francis’s recent apostolic exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and Be Glad), he reflects on the Beatitudes as a guide for how we can increase in holiness. Last week we looked at the values of poverty, meekness, mourning with others, and the pursuit of justice. The Pope goes on to talk about two aspects of mercy to consider in the beatitude: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” These are serving others […]

Living Out the Beatitudes, Part One

Pope Francis recently released an apostolic exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and Be Glad). The document is rich in reflections, such as one on the Beatitudes. I found the Pope’s commentary on the Beatitudes could serve as a kind of examination of conscience. How am I living out these Beatitudes, and where do I need to grow? For example, Pope Francis asks us to reflect on the beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for […]

Spring Cleaning Concerns

Not once in my life have I completed spring cleaning. I usually begin well, but I have a rather large house and lots of stuff. And my husband is not so concerned about spring cleaning—he will help if asked but otherwise remains blissfully unaware that anything needs extra cleaning or sorting or consideration of any kind. And yet, every spring I feel the urge to do spring cleaning. Do I enjoy setting myself up for […]

Training Catherine

Catherine is a fairly new volunteer at the thrift store. I have taken her under my wing to train her in the spiritual path of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. She has a natural concern for the poor, so training her is really a matter of letting her absorb the joy of meeting the people who come into the shop. In almost every situation her heart bends toward compassion, and there is little […]

The Triangulation of Desire

The late philosopher René Girard suggested that human desire is “triangular,” meaning that it arises not from any intrinsic value in the object of desire, but rather that we imitate others and experience desire for the same things that they desire. The toddler wanting the toy that another toddler has; the junior executive wanting the same clothes and car that the senior executive has; the lover pining for the same beloved as a rival—these are […]

How to Beat the Fear of Failure

Choose to do what you consider important to do. Do that important thing, and keep doing it. Don’t give up on what is important. Look at the gifts you have been given—name them. Accept those gifts and practice gratitude for them. Learn to cherish the life you are given. Believe what is good and kind and truthful and lovely. Find ways to pass along whatever is good and kind and truthful and lovely. Dare to […]

Jesus Responds to His Sorrow

As Jesus responds to his sorrow, he is expressing to us the best of what it means to be human. There are no miracles here. No sudden healings. No casting out of demons. No parables. Someone coming to the story of Jesus’ Passion for the first time, not knowing anything else of the Gospels, would think that this is just an ordinary person, someone who experienced loneliness, heartache, pain, exhaustion, and ultimately death. He’s no […]

Who Is This Jesus of Nazareth?

Brian Prugh reflects on Titian’s Ecce Homo (“Behold, the man”) in a Dappled Things post that gives much to contemplate this Holy Week. The painting depicts Pilate showing Christ to the crowd. This is his public display, and our chance to confront the question, who is this Jesus of Nazareth? The soldiers have done their best to humiliate him with the crown of thorns, purple sheet and broken-stick scepter. His beard is unkempt, his gaze […]

God Is All About Balance

Char, a widow and grandmother who has assisted in many family medical needs lately, tells me that God is all about balance. “My life has three main themes,” she says. “Family, volunteer work, and fun. I’m closest to God when they are all in balance. I make a to-do list every morning with subtitles: Go, Get, Do, and Call. But before I make the list, I read my devotions. Tucked into my prayer book is […]

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