Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan’s Beatitudes for a Political Leader

"Put not your trust in princes," the psalmist advised long ago. People didn't choose their leaders back then, so they were, on a material level, absolutely beholden to a king's whims for good or ill. The psalmist reminds them of the human tendency to view the world from a material point of view only, forgetting … Continue reading Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan’s Beatitudes for a Political Leader

Loathing and Hopelessness, Juice and Joy: Gerard Manley Hopkins’ Secret Sorrow

"Outwardly I think I am employed to what is of no or little use," Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote in his journal just months before his death. "I was continuing this train of thought this evening when I began to enter on that course of loathing and hopelessness which I have so often felt before..." I … Continue reading Loathing and Hopelessness, Juice and Joy: Gerard Manley Hopkins’ Secret Sorrow

The Tao or the Wow: How Ancient Texts Rehumanize the Heart

The tension in many a good story centers on a hero's struggle, as opposition mounts, to remember his identity or to recall her mission. Succumbing to Sirens and Circes is perilous and treasure greater than victory awaits the unwavering. In Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, for instance, Meg Murry's mission is to rescue her … Continue reading The Tao or the Wow: How Ancient Texts Rehumanize the Heart

Castles, Catch and Kairos: Relearning Play in an Age of Digital Distraction

I once asked a kindergarten boy if there was anything he'd like me to tell his mom, who'd asked me to call her after a counseling session with her son. "Tell her to get off the phone!"  he snapped with a bitterness that took me by surprise. "What?  You mean she talks on the phone a … Continue reading Castles, Catch and Kairos: Relearning Play in an Age of Digital Distraction

Lamenting Notre Dame’s Losses: “Heaven in Stone and Glass”

When I heard, on Tuesday of Holy Week, that Notre Dame Cathedral was engulfed in flames, I immediately texted my oldest son, the family's intrepid world traveler who had just returned from Paris and had visited Notre Dame only days before. (We differ philosophically, but he graciously allowed me to share his photos in this … Continue reading Lamenting Notre Dame’s Losses: “Heaven in Stone and Glass”

How to Speak of Easter Joy without Harming the Humble Christ/Plus Easter Playlist

Swiss painter Eugène Burnand renders the confusion and hope of Peter and John’s first Easter morning with such poignancy. They’d learned of the resurrection from some women friends who’d been told by an angel, and particularly from Mary Magdalene, told by the risen Christ himself, to tell them.  And then they ran to see that tomb.  They wouldn’t … Continue reading How to Speak of Easter Joy without Harming the Humble Christ/Plus Easter Playlist

Holy Saturday: Harrowing the Hell in Our Hearts (plus more songs for Holy Week)

It was on a Holy Saturday about ten years back that I first saw an image of the "Harrowing of Hell," a depiction of Christ entering the realm of the dead and releasing the souls imprisoned there (1 Peter 3:19). We proclaim it in the Apostle's Creed:  Jesus Christ "suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, … Continue reading Holy Saturday: Harrowing the Hell in Our Hearts (plus more songs for Holy Week)

A Holy Week Playlist: Music for Meditating on the Death that Changed the World

"This is it!" I once heard a priest, robed in red, proclaim on Passion Sunday. "This week is the center of our faith." And so it is. This is the week to ponder the meaning of the Christ, the Cross, the Death that changed the world. "Long before [Matthew] Arnold's sea of faith began its … Continue reading A Holy Week Playlist: Music for Meditating on the Death that Changed the World