Category: Columns

The Maternal Tenderness of God

The image of Our Mother of Perpetual Help is a manifestation of the tenderness of God—demonstrated in how the icon is painted (written). I’ve often discussed Mary’s gaze in this column and received many letters relating the effect Mary’s look has had on people as they pray before the icon. ...

Bring Back Common Sense

Things I never thought I’d see: Reports on the prime-time nightly news cautioning viewers not to drive or perform other daily tasks while blindfolded (search “bird box challenge” online if you’re unfamiliar). A warning on a hair dryer that reads: “Do Not Use While Sleeping.” A public-service announcement by a...

Tremors in the Church

“There was a mini-earthquake in Brooklyn, Staten Island, and New Jersey,” wrote Dorothy Day, the Catholic social activist, in her journal in 1979. “Why was not Manhattan Island affected? What a thought! Unimaginable to think of those two fantastic World Trade towers swaying with a sudden jarring of what we...

A Sacred Space for the Holy Spirit

The power of intercession we experience from Mary’s prayers for us is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that lives in Mary because of the Incarnation. In Luke 1:26-36, we read Mary’s dialogue with the angel Gabriel in which Gabriel tells Mary that the Holy Spirit would come upon her...

Saintly Faces

I have the face of a saint—a Saint Bernard! When I was an infant, my mother held me in her arms as she boarded a streetcar in New Orleans. While she paid the token, the driver exclaimed, “Lady, that’s the ugliest baby I’ve ever seen.” After she took her seat,...

Gaining a New Perspective

I’ve never been a proponent of procrastination. In fact, the more I detest a chore or activity, the quicker I’m likely to attack it with gusto. I reason that the relief I’ll feel once it’s completed will far outweigh the displeasure of performing the task at hand. If there are...

Let Us Promise

At prayer, take care that the words don’t become rote and lose their meaning. Consider the text in the Angelus: “Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.” That is something to ponder. Christ promises us peace, refuge, mercy,...

Come to the Water

Today’s generation may feel superiorly advanced after seeing vintage photos of passengers smoking on airplanes or doctors and nurses lighting up in hospitals. We can even appreciate the irony of the dubious 1940s ad slogan by the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company: “More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette.”...

Our Mission in a Wounded World

Each new year, we’re bombarded with sentiments of encouragement and hope, called to new aspirations, and filled with vigor to achieve an improved sense of self. Benjamin Franklin may have said it best: “Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year...

The Icon Speaks with Colors

When I took piano lessons as a boy, the teacher reminded me that music was a language that’s read and spoken by the performers. She said that through the notes they play and how they play them, musicians reveal the underlying meaning of the written text. The same idea exists...

Good Things Come…Just Wait

The hospital nurse announces that you’re finally going home today, but shortly before nightfall, you’re still waiting for the doctor to sign off on your release. The words patient and patience are derived from the Latin patior, which means, “to suffer,” so we’re undoubtedly called patients because of the insufferable...

Our Investment in All Lives

My ninety-mile round-trip commute to work each day enables me to listen to podcasts, those audio narratives that offer a variety of content. I dabble in everything from true crime to humor, welcoming the chance to mull over what’s said, delve deep into my heart and mind, and respond. While...

A Source of Healing

Faith engages the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help and can lead us to feel healing from God. To assist our gazing prayers, I encourage using the Bible as an aid. Several passages show the importance of keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ. Remember, when we look upon...

Regiving

In anticipation of the holiday season, I’m considering one of those thirty-day diets. So far, I’ve already lost fifteen days! But seriously, friends, for many, the final months on the calendar are marked by an excessive amount of consumption and consumerism. Bathroom scales and credit-card statements remind us of our...

God’s Awesome Landscape

“Take time to smell the roses” may sound like a cliché, but it encapsulates my lessons learned recently while visiting my middle daughter in God’s gorgeous acres nes tled in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York. Mackenzie, having just completed a degree in historic preservation, was fulfilling a summer...

The Possibility of the Miraculous

The icon is an efficacious sign of a real presence because it is a sacramental. Icons become a great means of holiness because of the ritual of blessing and the veneration of the image. This allows for the experience of the miraculous interventions and favors bestowed upon those who pray...

Interaction with the Vampire

There’s a difference between condemning an act and judging the guilt of the actor. Bloodthirsty vampires in literature often symbolize selfish exploitation. In How to Read Literature Like a Professor, Thomas Foster writes: “Using other people to get what we want. Denying someone else’s right to live in the face...

A Time of Communion

Now’s a good time to consider the vast disconnect between seasonal celebrations in the Church and the world at large. For example, in the secular world, October centers on Halloween—second only to Christmas as the most commercial time of the year. Decorations and celebrations mingle with all things eerie, including...

The Serenity of Mary and the Icon

There is a common theme within the many letters people send me about their experiences of praying before the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. I’m impressed that all of them comment about how the serenity of the icon captures their attention during their time of prayer. In the...

The Hands of a Mother

A number of new priests are reviving an old custom that wasn’t as popular at the time of my ordination. The newly ordained presents his mother with the manutergium (Latin for “hand towel”)—a special cloth that’s used to soak up the chrism oil after a bishop anoints the new priest’s...