The National Catholic Review

The Good Word

  • Vows are for life, we say. True. Very true. In fact, true in two ways. “Vows are for life.” One might say, the first sense of the statement ought to be true. The second sense, must be true.

    In the first sense, when we pronounce vows, make solemn promises about the future before God and community, we should intend them to last the very length of our lives. This first sense of the statement, “vows are for life” is known and honored, if not always observed, by most.

  • Wintry Sunday mornings meant traveling by horse and ice cutter from St. John’s Lutheran Church in Pembroke, Ontario to its mission church, some ten miles away in the Ottawa Valley. Hot bricks and bearskin rugs kept the pastor, Clem Neuhaus, and any family member who might accompany him, warm en route. He and his wife Ella were raising seven children in the rural Canadian lumber town, ravaged by the Great Depression.

  • This is the twenty-fifth entry in the Bible Junkies Online Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles. This entry deals with the Philip’s continuing his mission to Samaria and encountering a marginalized person with respect to Israel, an Ethiopian eunuch.

  • To grow up with the Gospel is a blessing, which none should eschew, yet the familiarity of youth can have the unfortunate effect of benumbing the bewilderment, by which the Gospel intends to be received. The scriptures are written for adults. By way of astonishment, they seek to reorder an adult world. However variegated, even vitriolic, our understanding of them can become in the course of sharing the scriptures with others, in themselves, they’re plain spoken, enough for any adult to make...

  • As a word, “dream” does double duty, signifying that from which we must awake and that which must never die. The dreams of night, whether they bring delight or dread, dissipate at the dawn. The dreams of the day—to distinguish them from day dreams, when the soul saunters through dissipations—are the ideals and hopes that quicken our humanity. To abandon them would be an act of despair.

    Martin Luther King Jr. called down our future when he told us,

  • Kim Davis’s convictions, like so much of religious thought in the United States, is a mish-mash of American civil religion, the Bible, the Constitution and the invocation of freedom. One of the quotations which looms large biblically in the claim of religious freedom for Christians is found in Acts 5. Peter and John have been arrested and imprisoned on the Temple mount for preaching in Jesus’ name. Miraculously freed from prison, they continue to teach in Jesus’ name. When they are...

  • Aunt Mary Edna was seventy-eight when she died. She had been married to my Uncle Lawrence fifty-nine years. He and I passed a few quiet moments after her death, talking about his love for her, the six daughters she had borne him, and their family life on the farm. Their first home was a sod house.

  • This is the twenty-fourth entry in the Bible Junkies Online Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles. This entry deals with the apostles Peter and John taking up Philip’s mission to Samaria and Simon the magician offering money for the Holy Spirit.

    For previous entries, please now go to the Complete Acts of the Apostle...

  • How close is God? Moses told the Israelites,

    For what great nation is there
    that has gods so close to it as the Lord,
    our God, is to us whenever we call upon him? (Dt 4:7).


    So God is closer than any supposed gods might be. How close is that?

  • It’s probably America’s best known poem, if not its most beloved. Perhaps because it’s as simple as it is universal. There’s no doubt about the clarity of scene, which Robert Frost creates, though folks disagree whether the poet is at peace, or disturbed, by the decision made.