The National Catholic Review

Faith in Focus

  • March 2, 2015

    I met the monk, before he was a monk, on Facebook. The message icon flickered to life when an actor we both know made the connection: two writers, two creative people, two weirdoes, two Catholics. Perhaps we’d like to get acquainted? The monk back then had a different name; let’s call him Anthony, the desert father, the first monk. I went into the café where he worked, a busy spot near the school where I teach, and introduced myself.

  • February 23, 2015

    When my oldest son Peter was almost 4 years old, we arrived at Sunday Mass, hurriedly walking in a few minutes late, when he noticed the prayer candles in the back corner of the church. He was mesmerized. He asked, “Mommy, what are those?” As the mother of a child who had been labeled as having a significant delay in the way he was acquiring language, I was happy to hear a non-routine, real question stemming from his curiosity.

  • February 16, 2015

    The first time I saw snow, I was 26 years old. I’d moved to Pittsburgh for graduate school after a lifetime in southern Louisiana, where I’d never owned a coat, hat, scarf or mittens. I remember I walked outside the coffee shop where I was studying and stood there, turning circles in wonder like some alien fallen to earth, looking every bit the yokel I was, overpowered by the beauty of the fat, white flakes, by the sudden hushed silence that seemed to...

  • January 5-12, 2015

    When I arrived at Fordham University in the fall of 1951, I automatically signed up for the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. That I would eventually go into the United States Army had been long understood. The Korean War was raging. Since I felt I would inevitably be drafted, I wanted to enter on my own terms and to be an officer, and the program would take me through college before sending me abroad. Besides, the army was in my blood.

  • January 5-12, 2015

    I know a Jesuit whose father worked at the same company for 56 years. A friend and mentor just retired after 35 years at the same company, and my father has only recently begun to decelerate after practicing orthopedic surgery for almost 40 years.

  • December 22-29, 2014

    I am the son of a florist, so I was reared to accept that there are no tin flowers. And even the least of them are like rainbows or sunsets: worthwhile natural deities. I worked side-by-side with my dad for 25 of the 50 years he spent in his tiny flower shop in a tiny Philadelphia neighborhood called Paradise. When my pop was in his shop taking care of his customers, he was truly in paradise. He taught me that flowers speak to the verities of the heart and...

  • December 8-15, 2014

    In late December 2009, on a sunny Florida afternoon, my 81-year-old mother stepped across my sister’s kitchen, caught her foot on the hem of her pink bathrobe and fell onto the ceramic tile floor. She landed with sufficient force to break her right hip instantly, the hip opposite the one she had broken 10 years earlier and that had been successfully repaired.

  • December 1, 2014

    ‘I can no longer cope with the loneliness. At this point the future could not look any blacker.... I kept thinking I could work my way out of this horrible depression that grips me, but I can’t do it. Please forgive me if I have hurt you....”

  • November 24, 2014

    On June 11, 2001, the U.S. Government executed Timothy McVeigh in the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind. Six years earlier, on the morning of April 19, 1995, the ex-Army soldier and security guard had parked a rented Ryder truck in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City. Inside that vehicle was a bomb. At precisely 9:02 a.m., the bomb exploded, killing 168 people and injuring several hundred more.

  • November 10, 2014

    Sitting a few feet from the great bronze sculpture of the four evangelists lifting up the murdered archbishop, I read on the red marble slab over Archbishop Óscar Romero’s tomb the phrase Sentir con la Iglesia, generally translated as “To think with the church.”