Several years ago, while teaching a summer course at Seattle University, I had a female student who, while happily married, was unable to conceive a child. She had no illusions about what this meant for her. It bothered her a great deal. She found Mother’s Day very difficult. Among other things, she wrote a well-researched thesis on the concept of barrenness in Scripture and developed a retreat on that same theme which she offered at various renewal centres.

God will never desert us

By

Passion (Palm) Sunday (Year C) March 20 (Isaiah 50:4-7; Psalm 22; Philippians 2:6-11; Luke 2:14-23:56)

How do we make sense of catastrophe and disaster? We usually look for explanations and causes, or more often than not, someone to blame. 

God’s mercy is inexhaustible

By

Many of us, I am sure, have been inspired by the movie Of Gods and Men, the story of a group of Trappist monks who, after making a painful decision not to flee from the violence in Algeria in the 1990s, are eventually martyred by Islamic extremists in 1996. Recently, I was much inspired by reading the diaries of one of those monks, Christophe Lebreton. Published under the title Born from the Gaze of God, The Tibhirine Journal of a Martyr Monk, his diaries chronicle the last three years of his life and give us an insight into his, and his community’s, decision to remain in Algeria in the face of almost certain death. 

Judgment and condemnation: we are all in need of mercy

By

Fifth Sunday of Lent (Year C) March 13 (Isaiah 43:16-21; Psalm 126; Philippians 3:8-14; John 8:1-11)

The biblical witness is resounding — God is always compassionate and just, and concerned with the well-being and happiness of humanity. Freedom and redemption are expressions of God, and these qualities never wavered throughout Israel’s history. But in the mid-sixth century B.C., the people of Israel found themselves captives and exiles in Babylon. Jerusalem, along with its temple, had been utterly destroyed. This caused a crisis of faith among many people, and a collective search for the meaning of the disaster. Most blamed themselves for what had happened. Infidelity to God in so many ways could only end badly.

Not all Scripture passages are to be taken literally

By

A colleague of mine shares this story: Recently, after presiding at Eucharist, a woman from the congregation came up to him with this comment: “What a horrible Scripture reading today! If that’s the kind of God we’re worshipping, then I don’t want to go to Heaven!”

Fear not, for God is mercy

By

Fourth Sunday of Lent (Year C) March 6 (Joshua 5:9a, 10-12; Psalm 34; 2 Corinthians 5: 17-21; Luke 15:1-3, 11-32)

Liberation is a long and painful process. Being set free from a negative situation is merely the first step in a continuing journey.

God’s kiss upon our soul

By

What is the real root of human loneliness? A flaw within our make-up? Inadequacy and sin? Or does Augustine’s famous line, “You have made us for yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you,” say it all?

God is always faithful, merciful, compassionate

By

Third Sunday of Lent (Year C) Feb. 28 (Exodus 3:1-8a, 13-15; Psalm 103; 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12; Luke 13:1-9)

God often appears in the midst of the ordinary and mundane. Moses was only doing what he had done for so long — minding the flocks of his father-in-law. The bush that burned without being consumed was a flash of the transcendent and extraordinary.

If you let it, the book you need will find you

By

They say that the book you most need to read finds you when you most need to read it. I’ve had that experience many times, most recently with Heather King’s book Shirt of Flame, A Year with St. Therese of Lisieux.

Jesus’ followers are expected to journey along the same path

By

Second Sunday of Lent (Year C) Feb. 21 (Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18; Psalm 27; Philippians 3:17-4:1; Luke 9:28b-36)

Sometimes the future looks bleak and it is difficult to believe in a happy or satisfying outcome. That is the point where many lose hope, and with the departure of hope, faith and love are endangered.

Bowing our heads in humility

By

At the end of every Roman Catholic liturgy there is an invitation given to the people to receive a blessing. That invitation is worded this way: “Bow your heads and pray for God’s blessing.” The idea behind that, obviously, is that a blessing can only truly be received in reverence, in humility, with head bowed, with pride and arrogance subjugated and silent.