Category: From the President and Publisher

The column “From the President and Publisher” offers pastoral and theological insight to connect the reader with the spiritual message of each issue.

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...

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...

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...

Lord of the Dance

When was the last time you danced? That was the question posed in an Easter Vigil homily this year. For some, it was during Roosevelt’s administration—Franklin’s, not Theodore’s—when jazz and jitterbug were the cat’s pajamas. Although I had asked this question in a health-care facility—primarily to priests and brothers in...

The Hurtful Sin of Pride

Attributed to Tennessee Williams, who adopted New Orleans as his home, is a version of this quote, “America has only three cities: New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Everywhere else is Cleveland.” In a similar biased opinion, after journalist Lafcadio Hearn moved from Ohio to New Orleans in the...

A Formula for Happiness

On the day of Pentecost, the giddy disciples of Jesus were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak about the mighty acts of God in various tongues. “They were all astounded and bewildered, and said to one another, ‘What does this mean?’ But others said, scoffing, ‘They have...

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

An illustrated Catholic Guide to Ashes by Bill Donaghy comically identifies the different shapes and sizes of the dark smudge we receive on our foreheads at the beginning of Lent. Examples include a neatly formed ashen cross as “First in Line,” an amorphous spot as “The Blob,” and an oversized,...

Church, Meet the Force

Catholic author Walker Percy wrote an acclaimed novel in 1961 about a man who seeks and finds spiritual meaning in an increasingly secularized culture. His book, The Moviegoer, was aptly titled to suggest the cultural shift from churchgoers to moviegoers. Yet even Percy himself may not have imagined a religious...

Keeping Christ in Christianity

Fr. Byron Miller, CSsR If only Christmas came when all the stores were less crowded! ‘Tis the season for banners, billboards, and bumper stickers to remind us to avoid commercialism and “Keep Christ in Christmas.” What if there was also a perennial campaign to keep Christ in Christianity? Is Christ’s...

A Wrinkle in Time

Fr. Byron Miller, CSsR “Wrinkles are hereditary. Parents get them from their children,” quipped Doris Day. Imagine what it’s like to be born with wrinkles rather than die with them. In The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, F. Scott Fitzgerald writes about a man who ages in reverse. He’s born...

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 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...

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.”...

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....

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...

Sunday-morning Satire

“Welcome to our parish, Father. Do you have the Mass this morning?” grumbled the woman in the sacristy. “Yes. I’ll be taking your good pastor’s place at all three Masses today,” the replacement priest replied. “Anything I should know?” “Well, Father, we prefer no incense; it sets off the smoke...

Our Sharpest Tool

Children know thirty to forty offensive words by the time they enter school, suggests data from psychology professors Timothy Jay and Kristin Janschewitz, though no one knows if kids are aware of what the words mean. Likewise, children may not fully understand all the words they use in prayer. I’ve...

Let Us Firmly Resolve

May all your troubles in the coming year be as short-lived as your New Year’s resolutions,” quipped an anonymous realist. Recall the ambitious list of resolutions often created with good intentions at the beginning of each year—intentions to start walking, stop smoking, floss more, fuss less, lose weight, gain indulgences…you...