Prosaic Contemplation

The past few nights I have been reading the concluding chapters of Roger Lipsey’s biography of Dag Hammarskjold. These chapters deal with the very complicated role of the United Nations, and so of Hammarskjold himself, in the struggle for independence of the Congo. In the course of that most difficult time in Hammarskjold’s life and work, a work that would ultimately cost him his life, he gave a brief statement on the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Human Rights.[read more]

Being Pruned by the Word

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.  He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.  You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.  Remain in me, as I remain[read more]

Leadership and Accountability

In the current issue of The Atlantic, the cover story is by James Carroll who boldly asserts that the only future for the Roman Catholic Church is the abolishing of the priesthood. In this he echoes an argument made several years ago by the historian Garry Wills in his book Why Priests. While he would, probably not come to the same conclusions, Pope Francis himself has stated that clericalism is the foundational cause of what we call today the sexual abuse crisis in the Church.[read more]

Enjoy Your Life

The above words of Paul are evoked by the attempt of the people of Lystra, after a man crippled from birth has been healed by the words of Paul and Barnabas, to worship them as gods. "They called Barnabas ‘Zeus’ and Paul ‘Hermes’." Immediately Paul attempts to return them to what is, “rains from heaven and fruitful seasons.” The “living God,” says Paul, is the one “who made heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them.” In today’s gospel, Jesus teaches likewise: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we[read more]

Faith and Honesty

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.  You have faith in God, have faith also in me.  In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.  If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?” John 14: 1-2 I can’t recall when or where it[read more]

Faith and Responsibility

After these things he provided judges up to Samuel the prophet.  Then they asked for a king. God gave them Saul, son of Kish, a man from the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years.  Then he removed him and raised up David as their king. . . . Acts: 13: 20-22 Today’s story from Acts[read more]

Your Will Be Done

The words of Jesus today echo words that, perhaps, most of us heard sometime in our childhood from our parents, teachers, or other caregivers: “Didn’t you hear what I said to you?” This would be said to us after we had failed to do what we were told. In effect they were telling us that they were not judging us but rather the words they had spoken that we did not heed and carry out.[read more]

Feeling and Truth

Several years ago now I had developed a blood platelet disorder that required hospitalization and treatment for several days. I then had a period of recuperation at home that included taking daily doses of prednisone for some weeks and then slowly diminishing the dosage for several more. One of the side effects of the medication for me was a sense of increased energy and mental focus. Waking up so early each morning allowed extra time each day for reading and meditation, which over the course of those weeks increased in me a feeling of attunement and wakefulness.[read more]

Goodness and Holiness

In his book on Teresa of Avila, Rowan Williams describes Teresa’s view of “good” people who occupy the third mansions of her interior castle. He notes that for Teresa, “To be ‘good’ without humility is to be condemned to a really wretched life, ‘weighed down with this mud of our human misery.’” Saul is a zealot of the first order. He believes that these disciples of Jesus are a threat to the primacy of the Law, to the necessary order of an orthodox Jewish life. They are a disturbance to the order and the peace of an obedient and well-ordered[read more]

Teach Me Your Ways

The story of the encounter between Philip and the Ethiopian court official has long been a favorite of mine. It illustrates the truth of God’s direction of our life in every aspect of the “common, ordinary, and unspectacular flow of everyday life.” As we see often in Acts, the Spirit speaks to the disciples. It can seem as if in these earliest days of the church, the Spirit would audibly speak to the disciples. Yet, it well may be that the disciples of Jesus, following his resurrection and ascension, received direction from God in the same way that we do.[read more]