Category: Plain Talk

Through a lens of simplicity, BRUCE LEWANDOWSKI, CSsR reflects on topics that affect our faith, pique our interest and pose questions essential to faith progression.

Synodality in a Stable

A synod is an event that takes place for a period of time, in a designated place, and for a purpose. An example is the 2014–15 synod on the family and its mission and vocation in the Church. That synod experience helped produce the post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (“The...

Bulletins Up in the Air

The parish council was having a heated discussion about the church bulletin. Should we print or not? Should we even continue it? What are the options? How will we reach people if we don’t have a bulletin? What about our advertisers? Our bulletin editor does such a great job, how...

A Holy Year with Vatican II

Often more than a few steps ahead of us, Pope Francis has surprised us again. Still in the thick of the Synod on Synodality, which will conclude in 2023, in February he announced a Holy Year for 2025. Themed “Pilgrims of Hope,” it calls Catholics to prayer and penance, pilgrimages...

The Fruit Seniors Bear

The prospect of aging can cause feelings of fear and dread. In a society where the measure of a person’s value and worth fall heavily on the side of work and productivity, it’s no surprise that some elderly people feel irrelevant, useless, invisible, and unloved. If we go to the...

Forever Fatima

On May 13, 1917, three children who were cousins—Jacinta, Lucia, and Francisco—received the first of a number of privileged visits from the Virgin Mary. They, and the world, would never be the same. Nations awaited the end of the “war to end all wars” as our Lady’s call for prayer...

Tempered Joy at the Vigil

Every year I look forward to the Easter Vigil. It is the most wonderful of liturgies. The initiation sacraments are the heart of the celebration. Young and old, individuals and families, with their unique and diverse life experience, are welcomed fully into the Church. Smiles and tears, hugs and kisses,...

Fuel for Renewal

I’ve always found the word fast a bit strange. I’m referring to the Lenten obligation that many know well, and to that dreaded prescription given by doctors in anticipation of blood work or surgery. Our English word fast has German roots and holds varied meanings. The word can mean sure,...

Advancing Their Cause

Oversized photos of six Black Catholic men and women were carried in procession into Saint Ann’s Catholic Church in East Baltimore as the All Saints’ Day Mass began in 2021. Their names, along with a few biographical details, were called out, each one receiving enthusiastic applause: Augustus Tolton, Mary Elizabeth...

A Broken Supply Chain

A troubling national trend is the gradual loss of “international” priests and religious. “International” is the designation given in the United States to pastoral ministers who come from places like India, Nigeria, Colombia, and Brazil to bolster the pastoral workforce in this country. Priests and religious are permitted by the...

Are You Listening?

By now you’ve heard about the Synod of Bishops that Pope Francis convoked on October 10 with a Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. If you haven’t done so already, it’s also likely that this Advent you will participate in a focus group, listening session, or online survey, wrestling...

Duty Calls

The Purple Heart is awarded to soldiers, wounded or killed, who have defended the United States against threats and attacks by an enemy in wartime. Originally known as the Badge of Military Merit, George Washington presented the first badges during the Revolutionary War. While never abolished, the awards didn’t officially...

Navigating Women’s Health Care

I wrote in September about Maria, a pregnant woman whose fetus was developing abnormally and whose doctors advised she get an abortion. After talking with me at the parish church and a mother I knew whose child had had complications, Maria put her life and that of her unborn baby...

The Only Choice

Maria sat in the parish office, in tears and inconsolable. A third doctor had just told her that her best option was to abort her baby. Second and third opinions didn’t give her the answer she hoped for and desperately needed to hear. She wanted God’s help. She came to...

God’s Reflection

Doña Alba is a longtime parishioner of Visitation Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) Church in Philadelphia. A native of Puerto Rico, she makes the best arroz con pollo (chicken and rice) you’ve ever tasted. For six years, I enjoyed plate after plate of delicious Puerto Rican food from Doña Alba’s kitchen—just...

Invisible Man

The newspaper appears on your doorstep early Saturday morning. A bag of food is passed through a narrow window into your waiting hands. Miraculously, your sidewalk is shoveled and the driveway is cleared after a monster snowstorm. You open the closet door to find a crisp, pressed shirt ready to...

New-look, Hybrid Parishes

Through the years, countless employees were coached to ask the faithful inquiring at the parish office, “Are you a registered parishioner?” Historically, church membership has been complicated. When ethnic parishes thrived, people were assigned membership by country of origin, culture, and language. Sadly, race was sometimes a factor. Parish membership...

Check the Sources

Not all Catholic videos are worth viewing. I was buying a new suit. I wanted to make sure it was black and not navy blue, so I asked another shopper about the color. I’m color blind. I often have to ask someone about colors. Blue, pink, purple, and black can...

New Life for Sacramentals

Saint Blaise day arrives February 3, close to the beginning of Lent, when Catholics set aside meat and take up eating fish on Fridays. You may recall he saved a boy from choking on a fish bone, making the day easy to remember. The use of candles for the blessing...

“I Do Solemnly Swear…”

Prescribed by the US Constitution, the oath of office of the president is a key part of the inauguration ceremony. It symbolizes the peaceful transition of power. The National Constitution Center, located in the cradle of US liberty—Philadelphia—offers a list detailing the use of the Bible at presidential inaugural ceremonies....

Shut-eye’s Rewards

I received a peculiar gift at a recent parish visit. It’s a statue of St. Joseph, asleep. Joseph is curled up with his head on his traveling bag. His eyes are closed. He’s peaceful and still. I was told the image depicts Joseph dreaming. That could be. Angels appeared to...