Faith in Focus
October 31, 2016
The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola center on the nitty-gritty process of making decisions—“elections” in Ignatian-speak—actions carried out under the influence of a gracious God. St. Ignatius suggests three possible intellectual and emotional “times” of one’s life “in any of which a sound and good election can be made.” I have, over my 59 years as a Jesuit, made elections in all three of these times. But St. Ignatius’ guidance is not a preserve just for Jesuits. All human beings...
October 24, 2016
In the 10 years since My Life With the Saints was first published, I hope that I have gained a bit more wisdom on the Christian life. This has come as the result of some hard knocks, some retreats, some conversations with insightful friends, some experiences in prayer and some counsel from spiritual directors, mentors and even psychologists. For me, this wisdom comes mainly in the form of insights. I see an aspect of the Christian life more clearly...
October 3, 2016
The Yale University Art Gallery and Center for British Art face each other across Chapel Street in New Haven, Conn. They are the closest thing on campus to church, including churches, though I rarely think of anything so lofty when I walk by. It’s where Bill Clinton crossed a picket line to pick up a girl. My own church was News Haven, the newsstand where I spent hours poring over journals.
Dr. John McLaughlin was my patron.
I am at the youngest end of the viewership for “The...
September 19, 2016
As children, my older sister and I staged elaborate Barbie doll games. Whenever we played, my sister’s dolls would go off to work, go on dates and generally engage in the adult world as we encountered it. Her dolls would eventually marry one of our two Ken dolls in an extravagant Barbie wedding. My dolls, on the other hand, were always married the moment we began and procreated at an unrealistic pace soon thereafter. Often we would have to draft...
September 12, 2016
Two of the happiest years of my life were spent as a stay-at-home dad when our son, Isaiah, was a toddler. The morning of Sept. 11, 2001, began like most of our days with a meandering walk around our neighborhood after breakfast, stopping whenever we met something of interest: a slug wending its silvery path across the sidewalk; a handful of pebbles to throw, one by one, into the street; a neighbor planting flowers along her driveway. An hour later...
August 29-September 6, 2016
My godfather grew up with my father in Oakland, Calif., a black man and a white man coming of age together in the 1940s and ’50s, when that might have been unusual in other parts of the country. It seemed normal enough in the Bay Area. They had stayed in touch as my parents raised us, worked and worked some more.
My godfather spent his career in the United Nations overseeing refugee evacuations around the world. He married...
August 15-22, 2016
We hated Bernards High School. Hated their pretentiously pronounced name, their zone defense and their lanky coach, whose white vest clashed with his team’s red uniforms. The varsity team was going to lose later that night—their losing streak would extend for another full year—but our junior varsity team usually had a chance.
Not this time. Bernards took J.V. seriously, and they had Colin Kelly. I’d heard whispers of him from...
August 15-22, 2016
I grew up in the 1960s and ‘70s in western suburban Cincinnati, where my Catholic identity took shape at Our Lady of Victory Parish. My mother almost always attended high Mass early on Sundays, but my dad and I usually went to the guitar Mass later in the morning. The first floor of our parish’s recently constructed school building functioned as a temporary “new” church, where most liturgies were held, but our pastor decided that the soon-to-be-condemned,...
August 1-8, 2016
There are no makers of peace because the making of peace is at least as costly as the making of war—at least as exigent, at least as disruptive, at least as liable to bring disgrace and prison and death in its wake. —Daniel J. Berrigan, S.J.
My second son, Crispin, turned 16 this year. He got his first job, which means soon he will be paying for his own cell phone plan and guitar lessons. Also, he has a driver’s permit, with license and driving privileges to follow this summer, if...
August 1-8, 2016
Among the mor e poignant tributes that have appeared since the death of Elie Wiesel on July 2, 2016, is Eva Fleischner’s open letter to him published in America in 1988 and now posted on its website. The Austrian-born Fleischner, a Holocaust scholar and pioneer of relations between Catholics and Jews, reflected on Mr. Wiesel’s relationship with the eminent French Catholic writer François...