The National Catholic Review

Faith

  • September 29. 2014
    Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (A), Oct. 5, 2014

    In biblical poetry a vineyard often represents the beloved. The prophet Isaiah begins to “sing for my beloved my love-song concerning his vineyard,” a song in which God’s affectionate care of Israel is recounted. The love song quickly becomes a lover’s lament, though, as Isaiah tells how the vineyard was prepared with tenderness, but since it produced “wild grapes,” it will now be abandoned. God speaks: “I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I...

  • September 29. 2014

    I was seated at the back of the room as 60 or so inmates gathered for the weekly Tuesday night meeting of Criminals and Gangmembers Anonymous. Most of the members are serving life sentences, many with the distant possibility of parole, although a few are LWOPs, which stands for lifers without that possibility. To begin the session one of the group leaders stood before his fellow inmates and asked that they pause for a moment of silence. The room went quiet...

  • September 22, 2014
    Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A), Sept. 28, 2014

    And more, much more than this, I did it my way,” sang Frank Sinatra. There is something life-affirming about doing it “my way,” charting one’s own path, following one’s conscience and talents and not compromising one’s values along the way. But when it comes to the ways of God, it is best to do it God’s way, as Jesus did in following the path to the cross.

  • September 22, 2014

    When my cell phone rings early one sunny fall morning, I reach for it groggily, see that the call is from my mother and know that whatever she is about to say will be heartbreaking. I am still in bed in my pajamas, and my mom tells me that Marian Elizabeth has been born. Everything else my mother says is drowned out by the roar in my brain that tells me that I must see my new niece. “Call me back on FaceTime,” I say interrupting her. A moment later, the...

  • September 15, 2014
    Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A), Sept. 21, 2014

    What are the ways of God? There are twin dangers for us when we consider this question. On the one hand, some people consider God’s ways so inscrutable that they no longer trust we can know how God acts or what God demands of us. This draws some people to the point of disbelief. If God’s ways challenge or confound human expectations, can God be trusted?

  • Sept. 1-8, 2014
    Exaltation of the Holy Cross (A), Sept. 14, 2014

    We are called to travel many paths, some that challenge us, others that inspire us. To trust in God is to trust that whatever path we are now on is the one that will ultimately bring us to the Promised Land.

    This is easy to say, especially when one’s path is not meandering through war zones or famine, caught up in the horrors of this world, and it is important not to dismiss the journey itself as insignificant. It is the locus...

  • Sept. 1-8, 2014
    Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (A), Sept. 7, 2014

    What does it mean to love your neighbor? Paul says that “love does no evil to the neighbor” and that “love is the fulfillment of the law.” How do these two statements coalesce to produce a practical Christian ethic of behavior? One is stated negatively—love does no evil—while the other is stated positively—love fulfills the law. But how do we know when we are enacting these demands?

  • Sept. 1-8, 2014

    I have come to trust my stumbles. Philosophically, I believe stumbling to be the natural human gait and that humanity’s steady march of progress has, indeed, generally been a matter of tripping, bumping into walls and clipping corners. As for my own march of progress, such as it is, it’s the times when I have assumed the most confident stride that often have proved the most delusional and disappointing.

  • Sept. 1-8, 2014

    I stayed on the phone with my husband as I drove up to the prison, its jagged stone facade stretching outward from a large, pointed, central turret. If it had not been nestled within the beautiful, rolling landscape of the lower Catskill mountains, I thought, this building would look much more ominous. I had taught plenty of college classes before—but never inside a maximum security prison. This semester, my students would be incarcerated men, some of them...

  • August 18-25, 2014
    Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (A), Aug. 31, 2014

    Much modern talk about God tends to reduce the creator to a living doll, who wants to give us a divine cuddle. There is no doubt that the essence of God’s being is love, but the experience of that love and of God’s being is not always an experience of comfort and ease. God can disturb the relaxed meditations of the satisfied and push believers to the breaking point. The awful power of God can overwhelm.