Faith in Focus
May 9, 2016
These days, when my family arrives at 9:30 a.m. Sunday Mass (usually fast-walking in just as our celebrant starts up the aisle), my husband and I can be relatively secure in the knowledge that we will make it through the service without incident. This was not always the case, and one Sunday morning, not long ago, those more capricious days were brought back to me.
The woman in front of my family was heavily pregnant with her...
May 2, 2016
The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people, but the silence over that by the good people. – Martin Luther Kin g Jr .
It has been just over two years since the abduction of close to 300 teenage schoolgirls in the town of Chibok, in northern Nigeria, by the radical Islamic group called Boko Haram. This horrible event and the nightmare associated with it continue to draw media attention and condemnation both in Nigeria and...
April 25, 2016
Each time I visit her, my friend Mae says she had another dream about my son. She lives in the nursing home I visit on Sunday afternoons with the community of Sant’Egidio.
“Come and take a walk with me,” Mae says my son tells her in the dream, putting his hand in hers and leading her outside, her bad leg somehow good again. Or he comes to her bedside and rests his head on her chest. “I love you, Mae,” he says in the dream,...
April 18, 2016
My living in Section 8 housing was an accident. Hired late in summer, I had hoped to be situated close to the school before I started teaching. Only two miles from school I found a complex of older brick apartment buildings set among trees and hills, in a mostly suburban area. While the place was not ideal, the rents ran below 30 percent of my income—affordable. I toured the model apartment with the agent but was unable to see inside the unit I would inhabit...
March 28, 2016
The Christos, for a skinny guy, sure was interested in good things to eat: he is constantly talking about bread and wine and oil and grain and seeds and vineyards, and he turns a hundred-some gallons of water into excellent wine, and he turns two fish (probably sardines) and five loaves of barley bread into so much food that 12 baskets of bread shards remain after 5,000 people have eaten, and he grills fish (probably St. Peter’s fish, or tilapia) and bread...
March 28, 2016
When I retired after a career as a lawyer and a judge, I found myself confronting questions of identity and choice. Overnight, I went from feeling respected to feeling practically invisible. Who am I? What should I do? Facing these questions led me back to principles of Ignatian spirituality that I had first encountered in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius many years earlier. These reflections, in turn, convinced me that St. Ignatius has much to say to...
March 21, 2016
A number of years ago, some members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops proposed relaxing the obligation on Catholics to honor solemnities, referred to popularly as holy days, when they fall on a Saturday.
Or on a Monday. But not all. Or unless it is the Ascension of the Lord, in which case it slides almost seamlessly into the following Sunday. Unless you live in the Northeast.
March 21, 2016
I have written at a graduate-degree level in another language, opining in Italian on Dante and Petrarca, Machiavelli and Mussolini, Pirandello and Pasolini. In English, I have critiqued Nietzschean theory and backed up John Dewey’s take on the role of education in democracy. I have conducted research from the Congressional Record and interviewed elected men and women in the halls of Congress, sat weekly around John Boehner’s desk in Steny Hoyer’s chamber,...
March 14, 2016
My niece was buried a few weeks ago, a wonderful young woman: 36, not sick, suddenly gone. Sudden deaths, they say, are the most traumatic—and certainly sudden deaths of the young. The shock is nearly concussive. When I first got the call that she had died, I was at work. Afterward I returned to my desk in a kind of stupor, moving from task to task with a dull urgency, finding cool comfort in the reassurances of routine. Routine and grammar. I work as a...
March 7, 2016
About once or twice a week, I make my way across the U.S.-Mexico border from Nogales, Ariz., to Nogales, Sonora. I know the path well. As I approach the heavily fortified gate, I can see the high, serpent-like border wall on each side, undulating up and down the desert hills of Ambos Nogales.
I often think about my resistance to coming here in the first place. My Jesuit provincial superior had asked if I would be...