The National Catholic Review

Faith in Focus

  • November 3, 2014

    When we left Virginia a year ago for Northern Michigan—driving 19 hours with two kids and two cats—I vowed I would never pack a box again. My husband and I are academics, but we must rival military families and missionaries in frequency of relocation. I have lost count of our moves.

  • November 3, 2014

    Some said that their houses “exploded” when the 20-foot-high storm surge hit. Parents and children were torn from one another’s arms. The boats and nets used by the people to earn a living were gone. For days there was little food or water.

  • October 20, 2014

    I was a seminarian in Rome when Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli was elected Pope John XXIII. More than five decades later, I found myself in Rome once more, on April 27, at the canonization ceremony that celebrated Pope John’s holy life, as well as that of Pope John Paul II. I was one of 800 priests distributing Communion that day, and the experience offered me the chance to reflect on what these great men have meant to the church.

  • October 13, 2014

    Six years ago I boarded a plane to Italy and left my family, friends and boyfriend of three years for what I imagined would be an amazing study-abroad experience. For months it was just that. I enjoyed traveling around Europe, immersing myself in Italian city-life, culture and cuisine. As my study abroad experience came to an end, my American cohort was invited by a friend of a friend to join him at his family hotel for the weekend. I felt grateful for one...

  • October 6, 2014

    Usually the daily noon Mass on campus is attended by the familiar dozen or so faculty and staff and students and neighbors; but today, to my amazement, there are 4-year-old twin boys in front of me, complete with parents, the father immensely tall and the mother adamantly not.

  • 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.