On a national scale, it was a rough July, marked by division: shootings, protests, funerals, conventions.
I’ve been listening to Lillian Cunningham’s “Presidential” podcast, trying to glean insights into our nation’s earliest leaders. In a month that is sure to contain fireworks — from the Fourth of July to the Republican and Democratic conventions — it feels quieting and introspective to cast my mind back to our first presidents.
It had been a long Thursday, and Brooke Paris couldn’t wait to take off her heels, peel off her contacts and wipe off her make-up. She changed into her pajamas, climbed into bed and opened her MacBook to the pope’s new apostolic exhortation.
Father Thomas Byles was 42 when he boarded the Titanic with his second-class ticket and portable altar stone. He had made arrangements with Captain Edward Smith to secure space on the ocean liner to celebrate Mass. Even on vacation a priest is never off duty, he knew, but the Catholic convert would have it no other way.
Dolores Hart was 19 when she filmed her first movie scene: kissing Elvis Presley.
Oprah Winfrey has joined Weight Watchers, which means she is not only a card-carrying, point-counting member of the weight-loss club, she is also part owner. That’s how you do it when you’re Oprah: You go big (“you get a car, you get a car, you get a car”) or you don’t bother.
The wedding that Tyler Schwandt and his fiancée are planning could’ve been broadcast on national TV. But he’s perfectly content with a quieter, more intimate wedding Mass.
The 23-year-old Catholic from Rockford, Michigan, has the distinction of being the firstborn of 13 boys, the family whose improbable boy streak went viral with the 12th pregnancy and generated another round of stories when a 13th son arrived in May.
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.”
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.”
I’m reading a book that speaks to me as a journalist, Brian Grazer’s 2015 release “A Curious Mind: The Secret To A Bigger Life.” In it, the 64-year-old Emmy-winning movie producer recounts his practice of conducting “curiosity conversations” twice a month for the past three decades to fill up his knowledge reserve and walk in someone else’s head.