On Mother Teresa and her legacy, new in OSV

With the canonization of Mother Teresa by Pope Francis coming up on Sunday, September 4, Our Sunday Visitor has posted two related articles I’ve written.

The first is a biographical piece, recounting her fascinating and awe-inspiring life — which included a dramatic mystical experience, a surprising spiritual secret known to almost no one while she lived, and an iron will to make God’s love known to the poor. (This article includes a sidebar that considers several criticisms of Mother Teresa that you sometimes come across.) You’ll find all that here.

The second is a look at the ways her legacy is still being carried out very concretely today. Everyone knows she founded the order of sisters known as the Missionaries of Charity, but did you know there’s a long list of other orders and organizations as well? You’ll find that article here.

What a remarkable figure. Just preparing the articles called me to a deeper faith and greater love.

St. Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us.


The Summa at 750: New in OSV

It was 750 years ago that St. Thomas Aquinas set to work on the Summa Theologiae. Other  than the Bible, there has been no written work that has had greater influence on Catholic doctrine and faith.

Here’s my new article in Our Sunday Visitor, taking a look at the Summa on this auspicious anniversary.

“Especially the voiceless”: OMI’s mark 200 years this week

This week the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate mark the 200th anniversary of their founding by St. Eugene de Mazenod. Here’s my new article in Our Sunday Visitor marking the occasion. It takes a look at St. Eugene himself, as well as at the admirable work that the OMI’s do here in the U.S. today.

Congratulations, OMI’s!

City of saints

Philadelphia, which will host Pope Francis next week for the World Meeting of Families, is a city of saints. Saints John Neumann, Katharine Drexel, and Frances Xavier Cabrini each helped shape the Church there in fascinating and inspiring ways. And their influence ultimately was felt way beyond the City of Brotherly Love.

In my brand new article, published in the current issue of Our Sunday Visitor, you can read about how Bishop Neumann became one of the primary founders of the Catholic school system in the United States, Mother Drexel and her sisters faced down the KKK and violent segregationists, and Mother Cabrini educated immigrants and protected them from exploitation. 

The article is available here online.

“They called him the electric eel”: St. Philip Neri

NeriI’ve loved St. Philip Neri for a long time. So when I noticed that his 500th birthday is approaching on July 22, I couldn’t resist the chance to prepare an article about him. Our Sunday Visitor has graciously published it. The article is now on their website, and it will appear in the July 12 print edition, too. The article opens:

They called him “the electric eel,” because just being around him often was enough to jolt your lazy conscience and make you want to live a better life, without ever feeling alienated or condemned. This year, the 500th anniversary of St. Philip Neri’s birth offers Christians a good opportunity to look again at his life and to be jolted anew by his inspiring witness.

Keep reading here.

God has a message, via miracle, for traditionalist (& all!) Catholics this weekend

pope, san gennaro 2So the blood of San Gennaro (or Saint Januarius, as he is often called in the English-speaking world) liquefied yesterday in the presence of Pope Francis, during his visit to Naples. I have to admit, I’m a bit of an enthusiast for the annual San Gennaro miracle. I check every September 19 for the news that the miracle has happened again, and then typically point it out to my family, our RCIA people, etc. (Though I guess if I were more of an enthusiast, I’d have been aware that it also happens on two other dates annually, as the article linked to above points out.)

Such a miracle is something that more traditionally-minded folks (rightly) dig. It’s all about saints and relics and miracles and yeah, surely a bit of Catholic triumphalism, the stuff that more progressive Catholics often turn up their noses at, right? And now, this time, throw in the very presence of the Holy Father as the instigating event of the miracle, and wow, what a Catholic package.

So my fun little theory this morning is this: By this remarkable miracle, the Lord is telling our traditionalist brothers and sisters to lay off His Pope and get with the (very orthodox, very Catholic, and very challenging) program that he is laying out for us these past two years. Enough, says the Lord, with the silly “Can a Pope Be a Heretic?” stuff, the stupid “dark and false church” stuff. The question is: is our Catholic faith strong enough, are we bold enough, to allow him to form us into a better, stronger, more truly Catholic Church?

New in OSV: on Romero, Grande, the man behind the best Romero blog, and more

Just in time for yesterday’s announcement of a date — May 23, 2015 — having been set for the beatification of Oscar Romero, not to mention the upcoming — March 24 — 35th anniversary of Romero’s martyrdom and today’s 38th anniversary of the martyrdom of his friend Fr. Rutilio Grande, OSV Newsweekly has published a series of articles I’ve written exploring the whole matter.

Right here you will find my lengthy article, “The Martyrdom of Archbishop Oscar Romero,” that offers an overview of Romero’s life, conversion, ministry, and death. At the same link is a sidebar article, “Who was Rutilio Grande?”, offering a brief portrait of the man without whom there would likely be no Blessed Oscar. Also at that same link, toward the bottom of the page, are a couple of other shorter articles, one on the factors that have made the Romero beatification such a controversial question, the other on the disturbing but important social and political context in which Romero worked and was killed.

Finally, there’s still another new article here — an interview with Carlos Colorado, the man behind the previously obscure blog that has been getting a lot of attention lately: Super Martyrio, on all things Romero.

All together, perhaps a good way to prepare for the upcoming beatification. Check ’em out!