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Who Was at the Tomb?

Easter is one of the most joyful times of the year. Lent is over, it’s open season on the Mini Eggs, and most importantly—Jesus is risen! Nonetheless, to forget Easter long before it’s over is a regretful reality for most. Except for the best of us, many find it far too easy to let the celebratory spirit wain long before we have fully traversed the fifty days to Pentecost. In the Scriptures we are told that Jesus remained with his disciples for forty days after the Resurrection. Then, a few days after the Lord’s ascension, the Holy Spirit came down upon the disciples and the Church sprang into action. Those first fifty days of Easter were days of missionary preparation. The same goes for today. How might we take action in these final days of Easter to prepare to evangelize in a post-Christian mission field? One way we can stay…

How Our Sins Ripple Out, Touching the Whole World

Our memories are things that are ours alone—even when we share memories with friends or siblings, we each take away our own perspectives. They tell us that we are alone, yet not alone; vulnerable, yet resilient; much sinned against, yet much more capable of sinning against others than we would like to acknowledge. Personally, when I remember those I have sinned against I am humbled—particularly when I consider how my sins have rippled out to touch the lives of others. Toss a pebble into a pond, and watch the concentric undulations that fan out, until the earthy edge is touched. That’s how our sins work: we are focused on one thing, one need, one appetite we want to satisfy, and we think whatever the consequences, they redound only to ourselves—and yet in truth, they go out in waves. Here is an example: When I was about nine years old and…

Silence

One of our friends loves to scour for bargains at flea markets and antique shops. He’s brought us some fantastic finds, and one of my favorites is this little sign that says, “I wish more people were fluent in silence.” It makes most people laugh, but he brought it to us and said, “This reminds me of you guys.” It’s become an adage in our house: one must learn to be silent. In Henri Nouwen’s book Life of the Beloved, he wrote, “The real ‘work’ of prayer is to become silent and listen.” Isn’t that where the real relationship building takes place—in the silence? In fact, I’d argue that most great dialogues end with an epic, pregnant silence. One of my favorite things about a good concert is when the band ends the night with the song that everyone knows. This is especially poignant when it’s a worship band or…

A Discerning Eye

My father once remarked that after years of eye exams, he had memorized the eye chart. This level of mastery of the material would guarantee success on an algebra or biology test, but it is not helpful in an eye exam. Unlike other tests, the goal in an eye exam is not to give the objectively right answers, correctly identifying the blurry letters on the chart, but rather to report how they subjectively appear. As difficult as discerning the tiny letters may be, discerning the proper way to face moral and life decisions can be even more daunting. This is especially true when one has trouble discerning exactly what this word “discernment” means. Some explanations give the impression that discernment is a foolproof process which, by introspectively consulting the conscience, infallibly delivers God’s will for any situation. In this view, like in eye exams, the key is being true to…

Mystery, Manners, and the Rediscovery of Great Literature

Several years ago, Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. While many, including Dylan himself, found it a bit odd to honor a folk singer with the premier prize for literature, there it was. After a curious gap between the committee’s breathless announcement and Dylan’s reluctant acceptance, the seventy-five-year-old artist reflected on just how much his writing was born out of his studied immersion in folk music and the budding progenitors of rock and roll including Buddy Holly, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, and the New Lost City Ramblers. Dylan would elaborate, I had all the vernacular down. I knew the rhetoric. None of it went over my head—the devices, the techniques, the secrets, the mysteries—and I knew all the deserted roads that it traveled on, too. I could make it all connect and move with the current of the day. When I started writing my own…

“Why the Water Came”: An Interview with Fr. Connor Danstrom

Fr. Connor Danstrom is a Catholic priest who currently serves as the Chaplain and Director of the St. John Paul II Newman Center at the University of Illinois in Chicago. He is also an incredibly talented musician and songwriter. Jared Zimmerer sat down with Fr. Connor to discuss his latest album, Why the Water Came. Fr. Connor will also be playing live at a Newman Center fundraiser in Chicago at the Lagunitas Brewing Company on Monday, May 20. The event is from 5:30-8:30 p.m. If you’re in Chicago, more information about the event can be found at: https://jp2newman.org/event/holy-happy-hour/. Be sure to check out Fr. Connor’s newest album! __________________________________________________________________________ So much of your music is telling a story: stories of loss, redemption, searching. Are these stories from your personal life? How has music allowed you to express these stories? Fr. Connor:…

“Listen” and “Remember”: A Father’s Plea, A Child’s Prompt

Any Benedictine will tell you that the Rule of Saint Benedict is intriguing from the very first word of its prologue, “Listen.” Listen, my son, to your master’s precepts, and incline the ear of your heart. In fact, what most Benedictines will tell you is that it is the very first word of the Rule that encompasses the whole of Benedictine spirituality: to listen. It is a call to listen for the voice of God however it be manifested—whether through the liturgical prayers of the Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours, the daily lectio divina that Benedictines try to incorporate into their meditations—but also beyond those specific settings and into the less-expected, because God speaks to us constantly and is not constrained or limited in how he may communicate with us. God may choose to speak to us through the words of our spouse, our parents, or even our children.

“At the Offertory, Therefore . . .”

On Friday, a seminarian I know texted me a photo of a page from Ven. Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s A Priest Is Not His Own, and said beneath it, “I thought you’d like that.” My God yes. Sheen was describing to priests, as celebrants of the Mass, the meaning of the Offertory. The offering of gifts of bread, wine, and alms—“my sacrifice and yours.” How eloquently he expressed the mystery of a ritual action that is reduced, in most people’s minds, to fishing for money or dropping envelopes in the basket. Or maybe checking the watch to where we stand at halftime. Do the faithful have any idea what they are really transacting in? Are saying “Amen” to? Giving over? Such ignorance profoundly weakens the Offering’s potential effect to change lives and transform the world. Literally. Annie Dillard captured my sentiments in a passage I seem to quote every other week:…

Antonio Cuipa and Companions

The attack came without warning. British Colonel James Moore along with fifty English troops and fifteen hundred Creek Indian mercenaries sacked the Spanish mission of La Concepcion de Ayubale with a ferocity that could only be born from vengeance. Tensions had flared since the failed siege of Castillo de San Marco in 1702, and now the British sought to reap their revenge from the soft underbelly of the Florida Panhandle where Spanish military presence was weak. Besides several poorly fortified barricades, nothing stood in the way of the oncoming invasion . . . or so it seemed. The Appalachee Catholics from mission San Luis in Tallahassee caught word of their sister mission’s plight. A small band of Indians decided to go out and meet the British horde head-on. Leading this group of protectors was the youthful, charismatic, and highly regarded Antonio Cuipa, an inija (“noble/leader”) of the Apalachee nation, second only…

Mary’s Motherly Fiat

The Redeemer was given to us through a mother, the Mother. It is appropriate that Mother’s Day would be celebrated within the Marian month of May as her fiat orients the fiat of mankind and especially that of woman. I am blessed to have my own four children that have grown within my womb, but I am the daughter of a woman who hung a plaque on my wall when I was a very young child. The plaque was emblazoned with the words “You grew not under my heart but in it.” I am adopted. I also have many friends, in real life and online, that I have watched suffer through infertility and infant loss. I have mourned beside friends that have buried their children far too young, and I have mourned the loss of my mother just two short years ago. The fiat of the Blessed Mother echoes throughout…