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October 1st, 2012
Clearly hearing and figuring out God's call in your life

From as early as I can remember, I wanted to be a pediatrician. I had a righteous inclination that God wanted me to be the person to heal others through medicine. This vision persisted until my sophomore year of college, at which point I had to admit to myself I really was not destined to be a pediatrician after a year of struggling through chemistry courses.
During that first year of college, I kept thinking to myself that it didn’t make sense. I was putting so much effort into chemistry — studying for all my quizzes and tests, doing countless practice exercises, attending office hours when I didn’t understand a concept, never missing a lab. My grades weren’t a reflection of the hard work.…

September 26th, 2012
Navigating today's dating world and the question of dating more than one person at a time

Question: Is it OK to date more than one person at a time?
Answer:… The straightforward answer is you are free to date more than one person until you commit to being exclusive with one person. The whole point of dating is to figure out what you eventually want in a spouse. Dating allows you to discover what you can’t live with, or without, and to learn more about your own values. Dating around can be a fun stage of being single!
If you are starting to get the sense that one or more of your dates would be hurt to find out you are dating other people, then that may be a sign that dating more than one person may no longer be appropriate. Let’s start by defining what you mean by “dating.” If dating means a couple

September 25th, 2012
Acknowledging and responding to the violence and suffering in today's world

Last week, an interview on “The Daily Show with John Stewart” with former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, began with this exchange:
Jon Stewart: “How’s the world.”
Kofi Annan: “Messy.”
Indeed, the world is in a chaotic and cruel place. In the Syrian civil war alone up to 11,000 people have been killed. Yet the day-to-day events of the conflict seem to be just a blip in the news. Recent developments say that the government has threatened chemical weapons against Syrian rebels who seized a border crossing at Turkey. Innocents are daily wounded and killed with stray bullets. Last month more than 200 Syrians were massacred. What drives a government to…

September 24th, 2012
Growing up with a sibling who has autism

“God, why can’t I have a regular sister?”…
That’s a question I asked God a lot in my childhood prayers. The question encompassed all the bitterness, anger and resentment I harbored from being a sister to someone with autism. I knew I loved my sister, but why did she have to be different? When I was 7 or 8, I realized that I would not have the “typical” older sister, as seen on TV. The older sister that would take my side with mom and dad. The one that would give me advice on boys. The one who would teach me how to apply makeup or commiserate with me about the let downs of life.
Growing responsibility
In my early years, I was the happy-go-lucky child who dragged her sister along in mischievous

September 19th, 2012

For some time now I have been faithfully following the little blurbs on the “Saint of the Day” in my various religious readings and Internet sites. These seem to include very young and virtuous girls in Italy who fend off rapists and then forgive them in the end; women who married young, had a gazillion children, forgave their husbands their infidelities and then founded orders of nuns who cared for the poor and the sick; holy men who became doorkeepers at monasteries and blew people away with their advice and wisdom.
This is not to knock these saints! By no means. It’s just to say — I cannot see myself in them. I wasn’t a virgin for very long; I am not humble and generous; I don’t…

September 18th, 2012

In my late 20s, I began manifesting symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I had been attacked twice at knifepoint as a child and was able to keep the memories pretty well tucked into my unconscious, but at a certain point my unconscious won. As I began sifting through the memories and the pain, I also began experiencing tremendous anger toward God. How could he ever let something like that happen to me?
‘God, where were you?’
Many people have confronted this same dilemma. We call it the problem of evil. How can an all-loving, completely good God allow evil to happen to his children? The response that I had heard repeatedly was, unfortunately, only a portion of St. Thomas Aquinas’ treatment…

September 17th, 2012

I’ve been thoroughly frustrated lately with our culture’s view of marriage and how the whole thing is supposed to work — namely, the lead up to day one. Despite society’s desire to step away from a “traditional” definition of marriage we tend to cling to traditions that reinforce stereotypical gender roles, or most concerningly, take away the significance of marriage. Some of these traditions are rooted in religion and patriarchal histories yet have imbued the secular world as “musts” in any wedding story.
Guy meets girl…
Many of my friends are getting engaged or married so I’ve been hearing a lot about how the proposal happened or what the plans are for the wedding day. What’s come…

September 13th, 2012

Mose Gingerich is a thirtysomething with a wife and kids. He lives in a tidy brick house in Columbia, Missouri. He sells Toyotas. On the surface, his life seems utterly unremarkable. But it’s not. Mose Gingerich spent the first half of his life as a member of an Old Order Amish community.
National Geographic Channel recently ran a series examining the lives of young adult Amish who have left their communities and their faith (which, one could easily argue, are one and the same). The series, “Amish: Out of Order,” details the lives of these individuals as they struggle to come to grips with the strange, fast-paced “English” world and the heartbreaking, often irreversible separation from their…

September 12th, 2012
How to buy wisely by letting your spiritual side help make economic decisions

Most of us don’t like to think of ourselves as consumers. I know I’d always hated the term. I’m a human being, after all, not just a buyer of things. I disliked the word “lifestyle” for similar reasons; I live a life, not just a “style” that naturally requires buying more things.
Then a magazine story I was editing about Rob Walker, a consumerism critic for The New York Times, called me out. He was explaining why the Times… needs such a thing as a consumerism critic.
“People constantly tell me that they’re ‘not much of a consumer,’” he said. “That’s the mindset everyone comes to this with. Everyone thinks they’re sharper, less greedy, and more virtuous

September 10th, 2012

Moving is not fun. I’ve been at it for two weeks. I’m tired. I’m cranky. My back hurts, and my hands are torn from ripping tape and hauling moving box after moving box. In lieu of my college-age brother, I have become the go-to heavy-object lifter, and I’m still upset about my favorite basketball shorts ripping on a particularly aggressive nail in the garage. Moving turns me into a short-tempered, irritable human being with a really short fuse, and I resent it because that’s not who I am in real life.
There’s absolutely nothing that makes you prioritize what you need and don’t need quite like moving. When you live in one place for a long time, decluttering and getting rid of things you don’t need requires…

September 5th, 2012
Examining the realities of living together before marriage

Question: My apartment lease is about to expire and my girlfriend and I are talking about moving in together. How do we know if it’s the right time in our relationship to start living together?
Answer:… This is a question that comes up frequently in many different forms when a life transition triggers a discussion about living together. There are actually two parts to this question: should we live together, and if so when is the right timing? Living together likely seems like a good idea. You can spend more time together as a couple and split expenses. You already spend several nights a week at each other’s house, so is it really such a big move?
Before we examine the religious or spiritual implications of

September 4th, 2012

If you’re a student entering a new academic year you may be excited for the opportunity of new beginnings, a chance for new friendships and learning new things. But you might be wondering how your spiritual life fits into a new school year — or even the search for a new job. Some may find that their spiritual life is lacking, or not even close to a top priority, as they work to earn a degree. For everyone, though, spirituality plays some kind of role in his or her academic or professional career.
While most enter university studies to earn a degree that will lead to a career, there is another layer that motivates us to pursue and endure long hours of work and study: a search for meaning and truth. God is ultimately the…

August 30th, 2012
Affirming the dignity of work on Labor Day and throughout the year

This Labor Day, many of us across the country will enjoy a day off. We might even pause and celebrate work and labor with our families and neighbors. Unfortunately, some low-wage workers will still be working, and it is those workers we should be celebrating and whose concerns we should be lifting up.
Employers are constantly finding new ways to cut costs, often at the expense of the very workers who help sustain their business. Workers suffer from low-wages that don’t provide adequate income and force families to go without necessities. They struggle with no health benefits, no paid sick days, and stolen wages. Since the economic crisis of 2008, many Interfaith Worker Justice-affiliated worker centers have…

August 27th, 2012

It is a constant struggle to try to find God and peace of mind in a city of almost 3 million people. Living in Chicago for two years has meant discovering unique ways to escape the rumbling elevated trains outside my apartment window and the bustle of foot traffic along Michigan Avenue heading to work.
I rely on public transportation to take me from point A to point B to point C and back to point A. When I lived in California I owned a car and getting away from the noise was much simpler. Finding God oftentimes meant taking a short drive with the windows open, blasting Coldplay through the car speakers, and gazing at the Pacific Ocean mile after endless mile. I inhaled fresh air and hit pause on my life during those drives. There…

August 22nd, 2012

Transitioning to college or graduate school for the first — or third — time can uproot you physically, mentally and spiritually. It’s important to remember the things that will help you stay grounded and make these life changes some of the best experiences of your life.
Church. …Before moving to college, I had always gone to church with my parents, every Sunday without missing a beat. Now you’re on your own and it’s up to you to maintain that connection. When I started college, finding a church came easy because I go to a Catholic university with the physical church itself located less than a stone’s throw away from the dorm where I live. Find a nearby church and connect with the

August 16th, 2012

I’m honored and excited to tell my longtime column readers here that I’ve been invited to start a blog on Patheos. This column isn’t going anywhere, but I want to share what’s happening in the blog.
Over three years ago I started writing this column about personal spirituality, with an emphasis on useful tools and tips. In the new blog I’ll continue that theme, but it will be much broader and with near daily posts. The name of the blog is “On the Way” and the Way has many meanings. Each touches on part of what I’ll be covering:
The path
Many spiritual traditions speak of a way or path or road — staying on it, straying from it, turning back in the right direction.…

August 14th, 2012
An abandoned, graffiti-covered lot transformed into a community garden where vegetables -- and faith -- grow

Lucy weeds and waters her two community garden plots every morning after walking her son Lester to school across the street. In the summer, when school is out, Lucy brings Lester to the garden. They grow green tomatillos, jalapeños, green peppers, and plum and cherry tomatoes. In the fall comes lettuce, cabbage and cilantro.
“I let go of everything when I am in the garden,” Lucy says. “I see how wonderful God’s creation is in the colors, fruits, flowers, butterflies and birds. If my son isn’t interrupting, it’s a moment alone in silence where I can say my prayers right in the middle of the plants. I think about my family, my problems. Everything that’s happened is erased.…

August 7th, 2012

Penn State was a place so honored and revered that it became known as Happy Valley. The entire university built up an image of unfaltering prestige and loyalty. “Success with honor” was the football program’s slogan. That image has been destroyed.

August 6th, 2012

Religion has been a part of the Olympic games since, well, always. The first Olympic games trace back to 776 B.C. when events tied to festivals celebrating Zeus, the most important Olympic god and father of humanity.

July 27th, 2012

Country: United States
Born: December 18, 1819
Died: December 22, 1888
Religion: Roman Catholic
Isaac Thomas Hecker was a 19th century writer, mystic, theologian and priest who saw a perfect spiritual combination in the Catholic focus on community and the American focus on individuality.

 

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