Toward the end of the liturgical year, we Catholics hear at Mass from the mysterious, often confounding and utterly fascinating book of Daniel. Recent scholarship has demonstrated that the book of Daniel had an extraordinarily powerful influence on the first Christians, providing them a most important template for understanding the significance of Jesus. Daniel is, of course, an example of apocalyptic literature, which in the common understanding means that it has to do with the end of the world.
With the Nov. 6 release of the new movie “Spotlight” — a film that centers on the investigation by the Boston Globe that brought the clergy sexual abuse scandal out into the open in 2002 — the curtain is raised yet again on a tragic piece of history in the U.S. Church.
Birth mothers, or “first mothers,” often experienced the loss of belonging during their unexpected pregnancies and relinquishment of children for adoption. They were hurt to the core by shame and isolation, being forced to deny the truth, and not allowed to grieve the loss of their children.
On July 1, I began my new assignment as the director of vocations for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. After having spent many joy-filled years in parish life where I regularly lifted up all vocations, I am now specifically focusing on promoting vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life. It is a great joy to do so.
For many Catholics, the most troubling aspect of the presidential campaign season is the feeling of political homelessness. Just when one of the candidates begins to sound sensible, something completely outrageous emerges out of his or her mouth. No single candidate seems to be addressing the many important policy questions of our day.
It is the book that somehow surfaces when you need it most — manna for the multi-tasker, solace for the stressed. It is the book you stock up on to give to others, to slip in Christmas stockings, to pay it forward. It is the book that spiritual directors recommend again and again: Father Jacques Philippe’s tiny paperback with the nondescript cover, the one that delivers everything its title promises: “Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart.”
Pope Francis’ recent speeches to Congress and to the United Nations were models of Church engagement in the public arena. By re-framing the task of politics and anchoring policy debates to the natural law, both messages were radical critiques of the prevailing culture of each institution and should serve as an examination of conscience for public officials at all levels of government.
There is no scrapbook of Kathy Webb’s life as a Dominican sister. No picture frames or friendship bracelets, no nun memorabilia perched in a closet or buried in a trunk. The only artifact from her convent days is the long apron she wore to protect her white habit, bearing her former identity on a tiny tag sewn onto the back: “Sister Cora Marie 558.”