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Why I Stay

My Life Lines column running in the current issue of Catholic New York:

Why do you remain a Catholic?” That was the challenge issued to me on Facebook a while back. Never one to refuse a good challenge, I pondered that question anew even though I had wrestled with it before in relation to various crises in the Church, particularly the sex abuse scandal. Why do I stay? I had originally thought the new answer to that old question would be easy. But, as I reflected on it more deeply, I realized that my truth is not that simple, because it would imply that the sex abuse scandal is the only thing that makes me wonder sometimes why I stay. And, quite frankly, abuse is just one thing among many that can make this faith a challenging matter. Read more

Bishop Scharfenberger reflects on a year in Albany

Bishop Edward Scharfenberger of Albany marks his first anniversary as spiritual leader of our Capital Region diocese tomorrow, April 10. By clicking on the photo below, you can watch a wide-ranging interview with Geoff Redick of Time Warner Cable News Capital Region on the bishop’s first 12 months at the helm of this 10,000-square-mile diocese serving 330,0o0 Catholics — from pizza and prayer, to challenges and changes. Read more

Pope Francis and seeing the forest for the trees

As I watched the events in Rio unfold throughout the World Youth Day celebration, I found myself tearing up over photos of three million people crammed on a beach just to be near and hear Pope Francis, over the shot of a little boy breaking through security to whisper into the pope’s ear that he wants to be a priest, over the many beautiful things Pope Francis said that give me renewed hope. And every once in a while I’d think, I should blog on that, but I wouldn’t because a new thing would come along so quickly. But then yesterday I read the one line that made me stop and say, YES! And I knew I had to blog about it, but I needed to let it sink in more fully. Read more

Some say the anti-Catholicism in S&H wasn’t so bad. My response.

Yesterday, when I posted my Letter to the Editor canceling my subscription to Spirituality & Health magazine over its anti-Catholic agenda, a few folks on Facebook declared one particular piece I mentioned “not that bad.” Another said how it was “stereotypical” and what did I expect from a spiritual-but-not-religious publication. Well, I expect not to have my faith insulted via lies and some of the most bizarre stories I’ve ever heard. And the fact that any Catholic could read all of those stories — taken as a whole, not dissected piece by piece — and shrug his or her shoulders and say it’s not that bad, or it’s what we should expect, is exactly the point of my outrage and disappointment. Read more

Want to start over? It’s easier than you think.

My youngest is preparing for the sacrament of reconciliation and happens to have the best faith formation teacher ever. Last night she came home with a little canvas bag filled with Bible books, a copy of the Act of Contrition, the eraser in the photo above, and a handwritten card with the message below. I think it’s a message we all need to hear. Again and again. Read more

Politically homeless in a political world


As we roll toward Super Tuesday here in New York, I feel a slight pang of political guilt over my inability to pick a party and participate in the big event. The truth is, I am a political vagabond, which is probably the case for a lot of Catholics, even if they do eventually pull the trigger and align themselves with one side or the other. We just don’t fit into anyone’s preconceived notions of what a Republican or Democrat must be. Abortion and stem cells and euthanasia on one side; death penalty and war and poverty on the other.

At various times in my life, I have been a member of both major parties and a few minor ones. The Independence Party wins the award for most unusual and entertaining door-to-door visits. But mostly I have been independent (with a lowercase “i”) because I cannot pledge my allegiance to any party that doesn’t really want someone of my ilk. I know, I know. There are feminists in the Republican Party and pro-lifers in the Democratic Party, but when was the last time you heard any of them stumping for the candidates. In their respective parties, they are considered the lunatic fringe.

My husband, Dennis, was pushing for me to pick a party, any party, so that I could vote in Tuesday’s primary. A while back I requested the form necessary to re-register. I stared at the card, moved it from one pile on the kitchen counter to another, and eventually tossed it and decided I’d rather not pull a lever on Feb. 5 than identify myself with something I cannot support. I’m considering moving to New Hampshire where people like me get to vote in the primary of our choice.

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Mass hysteria

shapeimage_2I was sitting in church this morning with my family, waiting for Mass to begin, when I felt my neck and jaw tensing up. Chiara, who is 2 ½ years old, was in rare form. She slept late this morning, meaning that we whisked her from her bed to the breakfast table to the pew. No time for running off energy or singing her little songs or spinning around the family room. It was going to be a long Mass, for us and everyone else within spitting distance.

Don’t get me wrong, Dennis and I are not the kind of parents who sit there serenely while the children throw food and pull the hair of the people in front of us. I’m usually ready to send Chiara packing at the first sign that she’s going to do anything other than sit there reading Goodnight Moon. If we went by my rules, she wouldn’t make it to the entrance hymn. Fortunately, Dennis is a little more laid back and so she usually hangs in until the Liturgy of the Eucharist, at which point any sound at all is cause for being bounced to the Gathering Space.

This sort of thing is the constant dilemma of families with little ones. Do you go to Mass separately, something we choose more often than not, in order to be fed spiritually, or do you go as a unit and risk becoming the family that everyone tries to avoid? Read more