The National Catholic Review

Faith in Focus

  • September 29. 2014

    I was seated at the back of the room as 60 or so inmates gathered for the weekly Tuesday night meeting of Criminals and Gangmembers Anonymous. Most of the members are serving life sentences, many with the distant possibility of parole, although a few are LWOPs, which stands for lifers without that possibility. To begin the session one of the group leaders stood before his fellow inmates and asked that they pause for a moment of silence. The room went quiet...

  • September 22, 2014

    When my cell phone rings early one sunny fall morning, I reach for it groggily, see that the call is from my mother and know that whatever she is about to say will be heartbreaking. I am still in bed in my pajamas, and my mom tells me that Marian Elizabeth has been born. Everything else my mother says is drowned out by the roar in my brain that tells me that I must see my new niece. “Call me back on FaceTime,” I say interrupting her. A moment later, the...

  • Sept. 1-8, 2014

    I stayed on the phone with my husband as I drove up to the prison, its jagged stone facade stretching outward from a large, pointed, central turret. If it had not been nestled within the beautiful, rolling landscape of the lower Catskill mountains, I thought, this building would look much more ominous. I had taught plenty of college classes before—but never inside a maximum security prison. This semester, my students would be incarcerated men, some of them...

  • Sept. 1-8, 2014

    I have come to trust my stumbles. Philosophically, I believe stumbling to be the natural human gait and that humanity’s steady march of progress has, indeed, generally been a matter of tripping, bumping into walls and clipping corners. As for my own march of progress, such as it is, it’s the times when I have assumed the most confident stride that often have proved the most delusional and disappointing.

  • August 18-25, 2014

    I was introduced to centering prayer after Laurie, my 18-year-old daughter, died from cancer. In the 24 years since then, centering prayer’s embodiment of kenosis, or self-emptying, has helped me in many ways to live with grief, especially by bringing to light one of grief’s most insidious manifestations: the creation of a false self caught up in a false drama.

  • July 21-28, 2014

    His name was George Adlerhurst.

    I was 8 years old, and he lived upstairs from us on the third floor. He had one leg and I liked him a lot. He was a nice man and he seemed to like me. I never knew what happened to his other leg. Then, one morning he became the first dead person I ever saw.

  • July 21-28, 2014

    Why can’t we finish this house?

  • July 7-14, 2014

    When my little girl became a teenager, I didn’t flinch. Raising a daughter who is so solidly grounded in her faith has made this journey (so far) a less stressful experience than those I’ve heard described by other parents. A very modest young lady, my daughter Vanessa and I don’t argue about short skirts and makeup, parties or boys. Our conversations seem more focused on her grades...

  • July 7-14, 2014

    My great-grandfather and I both have lived lives closely intertwined with religious orders. I have freely given my life to service through the Sisters of Mercy. My great-grandfather, on the other hand, had no choice regarding his service. He worked as a slave, owned by the Society of Jesus.

  • June 23-30, 2014

    My grandmother was one of the most faithful people I’ve ever met. In my fondest memory of her, she is walking through the house on a warm summer day, watering plants while singing spirituals—those Christian songs created by enslaved people in the United States as a form of prayer and worship. Whether Grandma was caring for her grandchildren, assisting people in the community or doing chores, she presented her faith through song.