The National Catholic Review

The Good Word

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  • When I was a child, I thought of the Trinity as something of a celestial committee. There was God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The last character used to be called God the Holy Ghost, but, about the same time that the Beatles came to America, he decided to change his name to Holy Spirit.

    I didn’t want to offend any one of the committee members through neglect, so I assigned each of them two days of the week, in which I would direct my prayer to him. Of course...

  • Wouldn’t it be nice to see the Holy Spirit? Or, at the least, to see something like those tongues of fire? There are two dilemmas for this desire. The first is the nature of God. Because God is pure spirit, there is, quite literally, nothing for the eyes to see. One can’t directly see a spirit any more than one can see spiritual realities such as love, beauty and wisdom. We do see such things in the pattern the world weaves, but we can’t distill love out of an embrace, or beauty from the...

  • The following is the homily by Luke Hansen, S.J., at the Mass of Remembrance for Daniel Berrigan, S.J., on May 6 at the Gesu Chapel at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, Calif.

    During this Easter Season, in the Acts of the Apostles, we have been on a journey with the Apostle Paul “to the ends of the earth.” He has traveled through Asia Minor, Europe, Philippi, Thessalonica, Athens, and today we are with Paul in Corinth. Paul is following the Spirit, strengthening other...

  • Walking between rectory and parish office, I pass the playground of the kindergarten students. I’m frequently stopped to look at a loose tooth, to examine a bug or to take in whatever passes that day for news with tikes. Sometimes, I am assailed with questions.

    Mandy, one of the few children of Mexican descent in the school, recently asked me, “Did Jesus have curly hair?”

    As a pastor, I’ve learned this helpful stalling tactic, which works with kids and complainers. I repeat...

  • Driving on the prairie, your eyes arrive long before your car. If something rises up from the land, like a grain silo or a church steeple, you’ll have time to reflect as it sprouts in your windshield. That is, unless you’re racing across the prairie, from one metropolis to another. If your mind is mired in where you’ve been and where you’re going, the plains present themselves as only a long delay in your plans.

    But if you’ve got nowhere in particular to go, and you have the time,...

  • The old hymn says, “Time like an ever rolling stream bears all her sons away. They fly, forgotten, as a dream breaks at the op’ning day.” This week, eating lunch with kindergarten students, I asked them what they were going to wear for Halloween. Yes, it’s April, but I wanted a break from that day’s subject, which was cuts and injuries. When you eat with little kids, one of them finds a topic, and the others pile on. So one meal will be all about dogs, or cats. Really. All. Another will be...

  • St. Francis de Sales produced an easily remembered description of the prayer practice, which Christians call meditation. You bring thoughts to mind in order to move your heart to God ( Introduction to the Devout Life II, 5). Essentially, you give your mind some content, on which to chew, so as move your emotions toward God. The content might be sacred Scripture, a piece of religious art, a view in nature or even the events of your day. In meditation, you mull over something, and, doing so,...

  • This is the 33rd entry in the Bible Junkies Online Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles. In this entry Peter reports the Gentile response to the Gospel and his decision to baptize Gentiles to the Jerusalem Church.

    For previous entries , please now go to the Complete Acts of the Apostle Commentary , where you can...

  • Young Sullivan Ballou had already been elected a member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives, when he married Sarah Hart Shumway on Oct. 15, 1855. She had borne him two sons before this young Republican, and ardent supporter of Abraham Lincoln, answered the call of his new president. After the attack on Fort Sumter, in April of 1861, President Lincoln needed 75,000 volunteers to preserve the Union.

    Commissioned a major in the Second Rhode Island Infantry, Sullivan Ballou died...

  • We label most everything. Assigning a verbal tag is an essential part of modern life. Turn on cable news, and you’re likely to read: “Breaking News, Terror Alert.” It’s probably not actual breaking at that very moment, but such is the effectiveness of labels. To label something is to make it “at hand,” a part of the world that lies under our control, our comprehension.

    Labels are verbal short-cuts for thought. Once something has been labeled, it’s been reined in by the one who labels...