Category: Columns

Toward a More Perfect Union

A Letter by Robert E. Lee From my lofty perch atop many pedestals, I have become a lightning rod. Some governing bodies are now enacting legislation to keep me standing. Others have spent millions of dollars for masked men to remove my compatriots and me—mostly in darkness and secrecy. Paraphrasing...

Banning the Guilt Game

For countless individuals and families with children, September marks the end of one kind of chaos and the beginning of another. In the summer, parents are taxed with the challenge to fill the stretch of long days with activity. Dotting many June-August schedules are the hottest (no pun intended) summer...

Holy Gazing

Visio Divina, a term used in the practice of contemplative prayer, means “holy gazing.” This refers to the practice of looking into something with intention and purpose, focusing on a certain object. In our case, the “something” is the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. You may be familiar...

Stealth Witnesses

My paternal grandmother used to pray the rosary every morning before Mass. On Sundays, when my sisters and I would file into the pew, she would greet us with hugs and kisses, her beads swaying, and then return to her prayer. In adulthood, I learned that she began this practice...

Our “Glorious Prince” and Defender

Saint Michael’s Church was a Redemptorist stronghold in Baltimore, MD for more than 150 years. It welcomed immigrants and set them on a course toward God and the fulfillment of their American dream. As sadly happens in some city churches, the parish closed seven years ago, and the property was...

Breathing the Divine Breath With Mary

Prayer is the intimacy of being honestly human and letting God be God. In this intimacy, we gently learn to trust and open our hearts to God. The Creator and the Spirit’s love are the courage, generosity, and compassion that inspired Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. “Not what I will...

The Holy Center of the Icon

A Portal Into Mystery The common and best-known definition of icons is, “They are windows into mystery.” In short, the result of reading and praying icons is a spiritual experience. In the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, the “window” is plentiful redemption. Where is the entrance point for us...

What Hath We Wrought?

Some sayings capture the flavor of a city: “Paper or plastic?” (Berkeley, CA, before a 2012 ban on plastic grocery bags) “Frozen or ‘on the rocks’?” (anytime in New Orleans) Some sayings capture the signs of the times: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” (President Ronald Reagan, West Berlin, June...

A Time to Honor

Recently, I jaunted down memory lane. It started when I tore apart my home office in preparation for a new printer. If you’re like me, every project leads to a larger and more complicated undertaking. And I take after my father, which means that cleaning always involves pitching, so in...

A Virtuous Life

In 1916, architect John Lloyd Wright invented Lincoln Logs. These sturdy, delightful toy sets used to create model log cabins were especially popular in the 1920s and again in the 1950s and sixties. As I recall the distinctive scent that wafted from the cylindrical storage tin containing the interlocking, stained-wood...

One Door at a Time

The month of January brings to mind new beginnings, a time of firsts. The root of the Latin word for January (Ianuarius) comes from the Latin word for door (ianua). January, the “door” into the new year, is when we often feel compelled to invoke resolutions on how we will...

Responsible Dominion

Did you know the three-second memory span for goldfish is a myth? As a youngster, I invested in a tank of bug-eyed goldfish after the loss of my faithful one-eyed Pekinese companion. That’s when “the boy and his inseparable dog” tried to become “the boy at one with his goldfish.”...

Combating the Silliness

I’m always amazed by the bizarre (unique?) “special days” that pop up each month. Take December. There’s National Fritters Day on December 2, Wear Brown Shoes Day (4), International Civil Aviation Day (7), Put On Your Own Shoes Day [who does that the rest of the year?] (6), National Roof...

Just “Desserts”

For years, I retained an ordinary linen handkerchief as though it were a sacred relic. Unlike the crass, mercenary online postings that offered Britney Spears’ used pumice stone or Arnold Schwarzenegger’s chewed cough drop, this cloth possessed no biological history except tears of elation and no value other than sentimental....

Redirecting Our Energy

For me, November serves up a heaping portion of gratitude along with a side of gloom. In preparing to gather together with loved ones around a table filled with family favorites, I’m acutely aware of all that I have to be thankful for. With that comes an equal sentient of...

A Changing Landscape

September is a season of change. We anticipate the shifting colors of fall foliage. The September equinox, which occurs this year on September 22, signifies the official onset of fall and shortening days. Autumn is my favorite season—I look forward to the cooling temperatures, the smell of savory spices, and...

Destiny and Destination

In the Lincoln-Douglas debates, Stephen Douglas called Abraham Lincoln two-faced. Lincoln turned to his audience, asking, “I leave it to you, my friends. If I had two faces, would I be wearing this one?” But Lincoln was far less tongue-in-cheek about a two-faced reality in his day: “All men are...

Her Eyes

It’s the eyes that get me. With the Mona Lisa, it’s the smile. With The Scream, it’s the open mouth. And what pulls me into the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help is the look in Mary’s eyes. They hold you in a steady gaze, sad and hopeful, as...