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April 5, 2013

If I were to compile a list titled "Common Catholic Misconceptions of the Catholic Faith," near the top would have to be this Catholic misconception about the nature of sanctity:

The saints are to be considered perfect in their earthly lives, to such an extent that all that they did while in this life is considered right, just, and necessary for Catholics to imitate in their own lives.

We see this misconception play out in the multitude of ecclesial...

April 2, 2013

The first time I tried to see the Shroud of Turin was in 1992, but I forgot my x-ray specs, so I caught only a glimpse of a stone box tucked in a badly lit chapel of that city's Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. I fared better in 1998, when the Shroud was exhibited for the first time in two decades. As I stood in front of the yellowed cloth, stretched and lit in its bulletproof case above the altar, I had a strong and perhaps absurd urge, which at first I resisted. Then I gave in.

I...

March 14, 2013

In 2005, I was in a colleague's office when another colleague came running down the hall, breathlessly announcing, "There's white smoke!" I ran for a radio in my office, but an announcement came over the intercom. "We're gathering in the conference room!" Table and chairs were shoved aside, people stood or sat on the floor, all eyes were glued to a tiny TV set that had very poor reception. 

When "Josephum" was announced as the new pope's first name, I sucked in my breath. At the word...

February 26, 2013

By nature I tend to be a rather contrary person. Or, as my father sometimes put it, I tend to end up "crosswise in the door" when told that a particular direction is one in which I must go. Perhaps then it is no surprise that I kind of liked wearing a veil to Mass . . . until I was told I had to do it. Ever since then the subject makes me bristle.

The first time I wore a headcovering to Mass was soon after my conversion in 1996. A friend invited me to a diocesan-approved Tridentine...

February 23, 2013

If you are not prepared for this Sunday’s first reading (Gen 15:5-12, 17-18), you will probably have a difficult time making sense of it. Your homilist might not discuss it, so I hope this brief explanation will be helpful. It is not a lengthy reading, so we will go all the way through it, splitting it into two parts but hopefully not slaughtering it.

The reading begins straightforward enough:

The Lord God took Abram outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count...