The National Catholic Review

Columns

  • December 22-29, 2014

    Most Americans probably think that Catholics talk about the subject of the relationship between men and women to the point of exhaustion. But we don’t. We have rather peered into every corner of their sex lives and by turns gossiped and wrung our hands over couples’ failure to gel or their falling apart. As to the natural and divine significance of the fact that there are two sexes, drawn to one another in a one-flesh bond? As for this being the origin of...

  • December 8-15, 2014

    During my retreat this year, I broke a longstanding rule. Many years ago, when I was a Jesuit novice, my first spiritual director counseled that the only books one should read during a retreat (other than those in the Bible) are lives of the saints. Other spiritual reading, he felt—particularly books on prayer—may tempt you from actually praying. There is great wisdom in that: reading about prayer is usually easier than praying.

  • December 1, 2014

    What makes for a good life? I’ve been asking people that recently, and I’ve been surprised by some of the answers. The most unexpected came from an 87-year-old lapsed Catholic, who said: “I think a good life is one where you find out who you really are. We are all so different. ”

  • November 17, 2014

    Marcia Lee plants community everywhere she goes.

  • November 10, 2014

    Among the many masterful moments in J. F. Powers’s 1962 novel Morte D’Urban is a Sunday afternoon party where the protagonist, Father Urban, tries to interrupt an argument between two businessmen about the parable of the unjust steward (Lk 16:1-13). Father Urban steps in: “I’ll grant it’s a difficult text, but rightly understood....” But he has nowhere to go from there. In fact, he himself finds Jesus’ teaching rather hard to stomach.

  • November 3, 2014

    Like many people, I hear the words of Pope Francis as an invitation to query what new things the Holy Spirit is doing today. There must be a million ways to structure this inquiry, a million lenses. I’m not choosing the most common lens—what Francis might mean for the institutional church—but rather what he might mean for a personal call to holiness. Like many people, I am a middle-class North American spouse and parent, in a country with a troubling amount of fragmentation and want. My...

  • October 20, 2014

    As many as 300,000 people marched in New York on Sept. 21 to call for the United Nations to take action on climate change—four times the number that organizers predicted. In the interfaith bloc, behind a wooden ark on wheels and a giant inflatable mosque, I marched and sang with nuns and seminarians, friends and strangers, sharing our love for the planet we all have in common.

  • October 13, 2014

    Its new war on the Islamic State puts the United States in the middle of the multiplying fault lines in the Middle East. Polls show that most Americans support it but doubt it will be any more successful than our previous war in Iraq, which bred instability and the Sunni jihadists overrunning Syria and Iraq whom we are now seeking to destroy. I turned to an array of Mideast scholars and experts to learn more about the mission the United States has set itself...

  • October 6, 2014

    Some people believe that Jesuits can be characterized as follows: We all have doctorates; we all know the pope personally; and we all travel to Rome frequently. But, like many Jesuits, I do not have a Ph.D.; I’ve never met the pope; and the last time I was in Rome was decades ago—in 1994, on my way home from a two-year stay in Kenya.

  • September 22, 2014

    ‘The faith is Europe,” Hilaire Belloc claimed a century ago, “and Europe is the faith.” To say the same today might provoke laughter or confusion. When we think of Europe, is the first thing that comes to mind Christianity?

    Now, quick—say the first word that pops into your head when you read the word after the colon: Africa.