The National Catholic Review

Faith in Focus

  • June 22-29, 2015

    Punctuation can make a world of difference in our understanding of written communication. Consider, for example, the following sentences: “Let’s eat, Uncle Larry!” and “Let’s eat Uncle Larry!”

  • June 8-15, 2015

    My preparation to become a father was easier than I expected. Apart from attending doctor’s appointments, assembling the crib and a few trips to buy frozen yogurt, my life remained relatively unchanged. At one point, my wife, Molly, gave me a book on fatherhood that she had received from a friend. This book bore the scars of a serious father-to-be: worn, dog-eared pages, yellow highlighting and a rainbow of Post-it notes. I thanked her for the book and set...

  • May 11, 2015

    My children claim it is often hard to get my attention. I am apt to wander in and out of conversations. I’m often late and easily distracted. I can spend too much time working and not enough time with my family. But when it comes to the big things, when my children are lost or hurt or heading for trouble, I am relentless. I am a finely tuned gyroscope. There is no way they can escape me.

  • May 4, 2015

    It is a Sunday morning in 1992, and I am 10 years old and visiting relatives in the midwest. We head to church, pile into a pew, sit, stand and then sing the entrance hymn at Mass. I happen to look up from my missalette just as two girls who are about my age walk up the aisle; they are wearing robes and their light brown hair is pulled back into ponytails. My eyes widen and I look at my mother. She gives me a look that says, “I know. We’ll discuss later.”...

  • April 13, 2015

    On a warm, summer Sunday morning some years ago, I arrived at church with a large group. Accompanying me were my husband and daughter, my mother and both of my husband’s parents. We were joined by several people whom we had recently met: a striking young woman, who was a member of that congregation, her parents, former boyfriend and that young man’s mother, too. Eleven of us walked carefully through the narrow church door, but actually, we were an even dozen...

  • April 6, 2015

    For a long time, my experience as a public defender supported my belief that some people deserved life sentences. One client chilled me to the core. As a juvenile, he had graduated from burglary and auto theft to armed robbery, holding up three separate victims in the course of two days. The first victim was a young mother playing with her kids in a park; the second was an 11-year-old on a bike. My client preyed on the vulnerable.

  • April 6, 2015

    I watch for it every Easter vigil, and every Easter vigil it happens—this Easter vigil right in front of me where I sat in the second row of the chapel expressly to see it; and once again I nearly burst into tears, because it is so beautiful and subtle and gentle and heartrending and amazing, and you would totally miss it if you were not watching closely for it.

  • March 30, 2015

    These days, when I light a candle at the base of the makeshift shrine in my sitting room, I feel at peace. I haven’t always felt this way. A year and a half ago, I would have been sitting down in a room of similar size but crowded with food wrappers and neglected dirty laundry. I probably would have been wolfing down a carton of Chinese food and binge-watching endless episodes of a Netflix drama. I was 200 pounds heavier, stressed, depressed, unsure about my...

  • March 30, 2015

    Despite various attempts over the centuries to give her a personal story, there is no evidence that she was a historical figure. She has never been included in any official list of Catholic saints; and although she is commemorated on July 12 in the Orthodox churches, there has never been a universally observed feast day for her in the Western church.

  • March 23, 2015

    ‘What can possibly make a difference in these kids’ lives after all they have been through?” I asked. The director of the children’s shelter we were visiting that Sunday morning took her finger off the “enter” button she was using to flick through a PowerPoint presentation and sat back in her chair. She exhaled at the ceiling, perhaps scanning the slides in her head of all the kids she had dealt with over the years, suddenly focused on the summons before her...