I actually Googled “sweet potato black bean chili, Not Strictly Spiritual” this morning to find this recipe I had posted here months ago. It was easier than searching for it in the piles of cookbooks in my kitchen. This is what’s on the menu tonight at the Poust House. It’s de-lish! Give it a try, if you didn’t do it the first time around. Read more
Some people have a problem with the idea of purgatory, which is something I honestly just don’t get. Of all our teachings, this is one that is not only incredibly beautiful but also especially logical (as logical as things of the spirit can ever be) and especially compassionate, at least in my book. When I look at my life here on earth so far, I can’t imagine — despite all my good intentions — that I’ll be ready to meet God face to face when I die. And so I’m banking on purgatory and the possibility that I might be able to do in the next life what I haven’t been able to achieve on this side of heaven, namely, get right with God. Read more
I knew from the get-go that St. John the Baptist Church in Madison, Alabama, was an active and vibrant parish. After all, the people there scooped up 550 copies of my Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Catholic Catechism in order to use it as a text during the Year of Faith. That’s some serious Catholic mojo happening there. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, I received an email a while back asking if I’d be willing to come down and do a series of talks for the parish. That’s typically something that would happen on a diocesan level, at least where I come from, so the fact that a single parish would have the resources and motivation to do this intrigued me. Clearly they get it: If you don’t feed people, they just might walk away. And at St. John the Baptist Church, the people are being fed, and not just tiny scraps but endless buffets of spiritual goodness from what I saw on my recent visit. Read more
When I went to visit my grandmother at the nursing home yesterday, I packed a little cooler bag with my lunch, thinking it might be nice to eat with her. I just threw some random stuff in the bag as I ran out the door — yogurt and water, an apple and a cheese stick. Much healthier than my normal lunch, truth be told.
I got to her room, parked myself on the edge of her bed and took out my blueberry yogurt, and as I sat there, stirring up the blue-purple concoction, a memory came flooding back like a tidal wave. Read more
Today I head to the Jersey Shore to give a two-day retreat — “Creating Calm Amid Life’s Chaos” — to the principals of the Diocese of Metuchen at the San Alfonso Retreat House in Long Branch. Work with an ocean view. Not a bad way to make a living. We’ll be talking about all sorts of fun stuff, from cravings and everyday prayer to community and friendship. Can’t wait to get started.
Then on Saturday I fly to Alabama — my first time in that southern state — to give a few talks to the folks at St. John the Baptist Church in Madison, not far from Huntsville. If you or anyone you know will be nearby, please tell them to join us. I’ll be speaking to the adult faith formation program on Sunday morning at 10 a.m. That talk is titled “Pilgrim’s Progress: Walking the Journey of Faith Together.” Read more
One year from now we will be just back from the most amazing pilgrimage, a 13-day food and faith tour of Italy that will take us from Montecatini, Florence, Siena, and Assisi to Rome, Naples, Salerno, Sorrento, and the Isle of Capri. There’s still plenty of time to save up some money and vacation days and join us for a wonderful weaving of spirituality, sightseeing, and one fabulous meal and hotel after another. You can find the full itinerary HERE. Read more
Foodie Friday is back after a long hiatus, thanks to a favorite recipe that inspired me to kickstart the old weekly recipe post. The beginning of soup season always makes me a little giddy, in a foodie sort of way, and this week we dove into the cool weather cooking with a hearty and satisfying lentil soup that also happens to be vegan. I didn’t do that on purpose but it’s a nice coincidence. Try this on a cool autumn or winter night, and you won’t be disappointed. Read more
I walked down to the Mission District in San Francisco today to visit the original Mision San Francisco de Asis, more commonly known as Mission Dolores because it’s near the Creek of Sorrows, Arroyo de los Dolores. After wandering through a beautiful old cemetery and the newer basilica, built in the early 1900s, I found my way to the chapel (first building erected in San Francisco) just as people were leaving daily Mass.
I waited for everyone to clear out and then went closer to the altar to get some photos. That’s when I noticed an old woman sitting in a pew, skull cap pulled far down on her head, raggedy oversized clothes, big bag full of something at her side. She had all the markings of a homeless woman and our eyes met and we both smiled and I said hello and walked on by. But for some reason, just as I was about to leave, something — perhaps the echo of “Whatsoever you do…” that was running through my head at that moment — told me to go back. And so I did. Read more
Over the past few weeks, folks here have talked about the role of Eucharist in their lives and in the liturgy, with a lot of people saying as long as there is Eucharist it shouldn’t matter how lame the rest of the liturgy might be. One commenter went so far as to say that even if Nazis did liturgical dance for an hour, it wouldn’t matter if Eucharist was at the end of it. Yes, someone actually presented that argument. So I thought maybe we needed to talk about this a little more, about Eucharist and how it plays into the life of an average Catholic. Read more
I was going through some old posts this week as I was preparing for a radio interview, and I found this post from March 29, 2103. I thought it might be good to re-post it here. Two weeks ago, when I posted about Losing My Religion, many reacted by saying that maybe the priest was just having a bad day, as if my frustration was based on a single episode. And at that point it’s hard to argue without sounding defensive, even though I know what was in my own heart. Then I came across my own post on this exact topic from months ago. Maybe many who have joined the NSS ranks recently haven’t seen it since it’s buried behind many other posts. So here it is again, a reminder that what I’ve been talking about these past weeks isn’t new, isn’t isolated, and has been on the pope’s radar screen since the beginning of his papacy. Here you go: Read more