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April 22nd, 2008
Spirituality for the Sleep-Deprived

Lately I feel like my brain is on holiday. I find myself wandering the supermarket unable to remember exactly what I’m supposed to be shopping for, reaching the end of a newspaper article and having no idea what I’ve just read.
It has to be the sleep deprivation. A few happy, isolated incidents aside, I haven’t had more than five hours of uninterrupted shut-eye since my daughter was born six months ago. Maybe once she gets the hang of not waking me up at three in the morning I’ll get back to some good, serious thinking. For now my brain’s stuck on diaper rash remedies, dirty laundry, the absolute adorableness of little baby toes.
My previous multisyllabic lifeI used to be a lot deeper.…

April 17th, 2008
Covering Pope Benedict's visit to the United States

Yankee Pope …
Constantly Alert
“Praying fervently for the coming of the Kingdom also means being constantly alert for the signs of its presence, and working for its growth in every sector of society. It means facing the challenges of present and future with confidence in Christ’s victory and a commitment to extending his reign. It means not losing heart in the face of resistance, adversity and scandal. It means overcoming every separation between faith and life, and countering false gospels of freedom and happiness. It also means rejecting a false dichotomy between faith and political life, since, as the Second Vatican Council put it, “there is no human activity – even in secular affairs

April 15th, 2008
Blind Date!

Those two words strike fear in the hearts of singles everywhere. And if you’re single past your early 20s, odds are, you’ve been on one.

Blind Dates…
TAKE THIS SURVEY!!
To Answer the Questionnaire, click here
Name (fake name is fine)
Age
Gender
I would be willing to go on a blind date.
a) true
b) false
How many blind dates have you been on?
a) 0
b) 1-3
c) 4-6
d) 6-10
e) more than 10
My mother or father has set me up on a blind date.
a) true
b) false
I would insist upon seeing a photo before I agree to go out on a blind date with someone.
a) true
b) false
I would ask about the person’s religious background before I agree to go out on a blind date.
a) true
b) false
Women are more likely to agree to going on a blind date than men.

April 14th, 2008

“What are your thoughts and feelings about Pope Benedict XVI visiting the United States?”…

April 11th, 2008
Seekers find salvation in New Age capital of America

Yvonne Draper came to Sedona to kill herself. With a ruptured disc in her back, a hip that slid out of the socket, knees and ankles that constantly went out, Draper was in chronic pain. Also burdened by personal and financial setbacks, Draper was ready to give it up in the place voted by USA Weekend as the most beautiful in America.
“But then,” she says, “something got in the way—Sedona.” Draper said when she arrived in Sedona in 2002 she was seduced by it natural beauty: towering red monoliths, wind-chiseled canyons and breathtaking crimson vistas.
Yet, it wasn’t Sedona’s scenic charm alone that saved her, but it’s spiritual energy. “The vortexes helped…

April 9th, 2008
Singer, songwriter, seeker, activist

It is the most standard of questions in any interview with a musician: ‘Who are your influences?’ So standard (and cliched) in fact that readers will often breeze right past it to get to the juicier parts “Beatles…blah, blah, blah….Dylan…blah, blah, blah… Stones…blah, blah…Did I mention that Brad and Angelina will be starring in my next video?”
But when a singer/songwriter like Carrie Newcomer includes the names of theologians, religious leaders and famous authors among her influences, clearly the traditional categories no longer apply. On her 11th studio album, The Geography of Light… Newcomer is not destroying old categories as much

April 4th, 2008
The former Master General of the Dominican Order worldwide discusses freedom, truth, sexuality and healing a polarized Church

As he bounds off the stage in his white friar’s habit into the large audience in an Anaheim Convention Center ballroom, Timothy Radcliffe, OP seems to have the energy of a man half his 63 years. He is away from the stage only momentarily to listen to a question from an audience member before he turns and moves quickly back to reclaim the microphone on the dais and offer his response. In person, Radcliffe gives the impression —at least to American eyes — of a delightfully eccentric and irrepressible British academic who wouldn’t be out of place as a visiting professor at Harry Potter…‘s Hogwarts Academy (as one of the “good guys” of course).
That impression is not entirely

March 31st, 2008
with Bill McGarvey of BustedHalo

In late 2005, novelist Anne Rice stopped by BustedHalo‘s® offices in New York to promote her book Christ the Lord, Out of Egypt, the first installment in her planned four-part “autobiography” of Jesus. What was supposed to be a brief interview with the legendary author—who has sold more than 100 million books worldwide—turned into a wide-ranging, hour-long discussion of her career and her re-discovered Catholic faith.
Her second book in the series Christ the Lord, The Road to Cana, picks up Jesus’ life in Nazareth at age 30 just before he begins his public ministry. Like its predecessor, The Road to Cana eschews the lush style that marked Rice’s Vampire Chronicles… series

March 30th, 2008
Controversial Catholic youth minister Justin Fatica is tough and bruised, but soft-hearted, and few dispute he has a knack for reaching troubled kids

The children who show up for Kids ALIVE in Burlington’s Old North End number between 40 and 50, and most range in age from about 8 to 16. Many live nearby, in poverty. On a grey, snowy Saturday morning in February, they trudge in from the cold, filling a small, blue-and-white room in an old building on Elmwood Avenue, and shed their coats, hats and snow boots. The younger kids are shepherded to an adjacent playroom; the rest linger and chatter until a pastor, who oversees the weekly, nondenominational outreach program, leads them in some opening music. They sing: “Jesus loves me, this I know…”
The crowd is larger than usual today, and the reason for this is a young man named Justin Fatica, who…

March 27th, 2008

A fourteen-year-old girl—
on tip-toe in the attic—
saw the huge horse-chestnut,
Westerkerk tower, and the random
flight of gulls. “Our tree
is in full blossom . . . even
more beautiful than last year,”
she wrote, on May 13th,
1944.
A nightingale once built
her nest beside the house
of a poet. He was ill.
He sat beneath a plum
one day, and when he returned,
his hands were filled with the scraps
of stanzas. Here is the plum:
I know I shouldn’t, but
I pluck one leaf, I crush it,
place it beneath my tongue,
releasing its bitter mint.
Praise to the angel’s wordless
gaze—her angled cut,
the balm of moss—who coaxes
the root, who stakes the shoot
of the chestnut and the plum.…

March 25th, 2008
A pilgrimage to Flannery O’Connor's Georgia home

You’ll find her along the fence line of Memory Hill Cemetery, to the left. The grave sits in a family plot. There are Treanors and Clines—relations of her mother’s—and then, finally at the edge, O’Connors. A low, flat, plain marble gravestone, next to two just like it belonging to her parents. The etching, too, is plain: a cross, trimmed with “IHS,” and beneath it her full Christian name, Mary Flannery O’Connor, the day she died (August 3, 1964), and the day, only 39 years earlier, when she was born: March 25, 1925.
It was tempting, when I was a pilgrim in Flannery O’Connor’s hometown, to think of what might have been for her. And it is tempting now,…

March 24th, 2008
Is lying a way of life for women?

For three months I lied to my husband. I snuck around behind his back and I emailed and talked on the phone with first one—then up to a dozen—different men. I had more than 200 emails secreted away in a folder. When my husband would come into the room, I’d snap my computer shut, or click on a different screen quickly, so he wouldn’t see what I was doing. By the end, nearly every other sentence I uttered was a lie. And even though I was so nervous and jittery, my husband didn’t suspect a thing.
Are you horrified? You should be. Except…
All this was part of the planning for my husband’s surprise 30th birthday party in Las Vegas last month: When we walked into a Vegas nightclub, 10…

March 21st, 2008
Dark, noisy and nearly forgotten, a 20-something makes a case for reviving Tenebrae

It is the great peculiarity of the Church of Rome, that it presents to its worshipers an extraordinary variety of services, each of which has a special significance and fitness for the period of the year in which it is celebrated. Among the most beautiful of these offices are those which are celebrated during Holy Week, and which are called Tenebrae.
The notice above entitled “Tenebrae Services in the Roman Catholic Church” and published in the New York Times…, on March 27th, 1872, sounds a little antiquated (when was the last time anybody said “Church of Rome?”), but it none the less rings true for me. Though it might be an odd choice, Tenebrae has long been my favorite service of the liturgical

March 19th, 2008
Holy Thursday and the washing of the feet

Holy Thursday begins what has been traditionally called the Sacred Triduum in Holy Week. It is the time in the Church’s calendar in which we liturgically commemorate the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. The significance of Holy Thursday is found at the Passover celebration of the Last Supper during which Jesus instituted the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Holy Orders. Though the conventional thinking is that the Chrism Mass—generally held earlier in Holy Week—celebrates the gift of Holy Orders and the liturgy for Holy Thursday focuses on the gift of the Eucharist, there is another form of priesthood that is commemorated on Holy Thursday that is often overlooked.
It would make…

March 17th, 2008
Seen and Hurd in the Holy Land

A few weeks ago, I stood in the sacred spot where John the Baptist baptized Jesus. The Baptism site is in Jordan and I was in-country for a week to staff a high-level delegation of my organization that was looking at the Iraqi refugee crisis in Jordan and Syria. (Millions of Iraqis have fled violence in Iraq and have either sought safety as refugees in the region, mostly in Jordan and Syria, or are trapped inside Iraq; many others who have been unable to flee are also in need.
Though my reason for traveling to this part of the world was work-related, my trip occured only six years since I too was baptized and ended a lifetime of saying “No” to God or “I don’t know” about God. While my work is…

March 14th, 2008
An American nun sees the Iraqi refugee crisis up close

Shame and sorrow—those were the two words Sister Anne Curtis uses to describe how she felt after meeting face-to-face with Iraqi refugees. “The feelings were very intense,” she recalls. “As a citizen of the United States, seeing before me the suffering of Iraqis as a result of our government’s war against their country, I was personally stricken.” Sister Anne is part of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Leadership Team. In January, she was amongst a delegation of women religious traveling to the Middle East to meet with Iraqi refugees. The trip, sponsored by Catholic Relief Services, took them to Lebanon and Syria, where significant numbers of displaced Iraqis are…

March 14th, 2008
Asking ancient questions in Africa

For years before I actually traveled there, I dreamed of Africa. Elephants and gazelle and women with long necks infiltrated the landscape of my sleep. When I say that I dreamed of Africa, I mean that I actually… did, but I also mean that I longed for it. So when I was accepted to a study abroad program in Kenya during my junior year in college, it seemed that the planets had finally aligned. I had the distinctive feeling that I was standing at a threshold.
But, when friends and acquaintances asked “Why Africa?” I had no good answer. All I knew was that this need to travel to this distant continent had bubbled up in me in a way that could no longer be contained. Maybe it was curiosity, maybe it was restlessness or

March 13th, 2008
Searching for the "right place"

For years I felt a gap between my parents and me—a gap of time and geography. When they were young, their social lives revolved around church; few of my good friends regularly attend. They’ve always urged me to “find a good church” where I could become part of a community. I’d patiently tell them that I have to make my own way; that I have friends; that I’m doing just fine, thank you very much. I knew they just wanted me to be happy—wanted me to find the security in the church that they had found growing up in the Midwest in the 50′s and 60′s.
But I live in Manhattan, I’d tell them, and we’re in the 80′s, the 90′s, the 00′s.
I grew up…

March 12th, 2008

Before I went to bed, I made sure I was clean. I purified the tub with all the soap in the tiny shampoo bottle. Immersed myself in steaming water. Held my nose. Submerged. I envisioned the ritual baths called mikvehs… that we had read about in a Judaism class I had taken in college. The class had been offended by the idea of women having to purify themselves monthly. But I no longer saw it that way. I scrubbed at my feet and my hands to make sure that they were unsoiled. Clean and pure: I made up a pallet of blankets from the second bed on the floor. Faced my sandals toward the east. I slept without dreams.
I woke at midnight and ripped the sheets from the unused bed, wrapped them around me. Kind of like my fourth grade attempt at being

March 11th, 2008

“Do you believe in love at first sight?”…

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