The National Catholic Review

The Good Word

  • I know the sound of despondency. I hear a lot of it in confession. People come to acknowledge their sins, but, as their story unfolds, they can’t help but to express a dejected soul, one wounded over some intractable relationship. It’s always a relationship. Despondency would seem to make more sense with a diagnosis, but health doesn’t make any promises, which is why it torments us less than relationships. Failing a miracle, a terminal illness moves on ineluctably. We pray for the best, but...

  • This is the ninth entry in the Bible Junkies Online Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles.

  • In 1991 the blade of a bulldozer, doing roadwork in Turkey, hit a small metal object. Upon examination, it proved to be an ancient sword. Very ancient indeed. Forged in Greece, it had made its way to the Middle East, where it was taken as battle booty and received this inscription, in 1430 B.C. “As Tudhaliyas the Great King shattered the Assuwa country, he dedicated these swords to the storm-god his Lord.” 

  • This is the eighth entry in the Bible Junkies Online Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles. The first entry covered some of the major critical, technical and background issues that will concern us as we read through and comment on the Acts. The second post, found here, considered the prologue to the Acts of...

  • Saturday, 7 p.m. Though neither of us yet knows, ineluctable forces are already moving young Anthony and me toward our terrifying rendezvous. I have baptisms after the Spanish language Mass. Gregorio has lit the large Paschal Candle, which stands on its impressive, sculpted stand near the font. Four or five families, not all that many for us, are attending Mass in preparation for the sacrament.

  • We know nothing of Lila’s parents. We meet her in a home for migrant workers, where, for the most part, she is ignored and neglected. In the opening words of Lila, Marilynne Robinson’s new novel, “The child was just there on the stoop in the dark, hugging herself against the cold, all cried out and nearly sleeping.

  • My Mother can still recite the blessing in German.  She learned it as a child, for New Year’s Day, when folks in Rush County, in central Kansas, would go from house to house, offering a benediction in return for food, drink, or coin

  • There would have been tears, I think.  If Simeon had waited all those years for the Lord, if Anna were a widow and so advanced in age, they would have shed tears when the saw the Infant King, certainly when they were allowed to hold him. 

    Life’s second half is awash in tears.  Tears for what happened long ago, in the first half; tears because time too short to be savored; tears because life itself has begun to run deeper. Everything seems to matter more.

  • Socrates suggested that we do evil out of ignorance, because, if we truly understood the good, we would never choose against it.  Saint Augustine thought that sin could be explained as our lamentable choice for a lesser, rather than the greater, good.  Both struggled to explain humanity’s predilection for evil.  If Socrates and countless social reformers since him are right, education and human moral evolution are still humanity’s great hope.  Augustine, however, thought a savior was needed...

  • This is the seventh entry in the Bible Junkies Online Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles. The first entry covered some of the major critical, technical and background issues that will concern us as we read through and comment on the Acts. The second post, found here, considered the prologue to the Acts of...