Skip to content

McCarrick scandal proves to be a tipping point #timesup #reformthechurch #whoknew

Typically, I post my monthly Life Lines columns here without comment, but there is nothing typical about this column. I wrote it in the wake of the McCarrick abuse revelations. Running up against my deadline — as usual — I knew this one probably needed to be seen by a few extra eyes before it appeared in Catholic New York, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of New York. I am grateful for the encouragement I received to say what I needed to say, even if it is uncomfortable for some. Here it is:

“Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture, says the Lord…You have scattered my sheep and driven them away. You have not cared for them, but I will take care to punish your evil deeds.” (Jer 23:1-2) Read more

The power of truth

Truth is important to me. I try to speak it here. I try to speak it in my real life. I try to speak it on Facebook. Because, to me, if you ain’t got truth, well, you ain’t got much. But not everybody loves truth, as I often hear via private emails from anonymous strangers, sometimes (but not often, thankfully, because I have great readers) on my blog, and occasionally in comments on my Facebook page. Read more

Show me how big your brave is

All of my regular readers here at NSS know that honesty is the name of the game. I always try to tell you the truth, even when it’s not easy or pretty. You’ve been to some dark spiritual places with me. And I try to be that way in life — honest. Just ask the prison chaplains who sat through about 90 minutes of honest yesterday. But sometimes, despite all the best attempts at honesty, there’s a sliver of truth that gets left out, something we’re afraid to say because we think hearing the words out loud would shake us to the core.  Read more

Are you brave enough to take off your cape?

“It’s braver to be Clark Kent than it is to be Superman.” That’s the heart of this amazing talk by Glennon Doyle Melton, author of Carry on Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed and my new hero. In fact, she is a superhero in my book. Please watch this clip, “Lessons From the Mental Hospital.” Yes, it’s 17 minutes long and worth every minute of your time. She is amazing. Because she speaks the truth, a truth we all need to hear, even if we are not quite ready to acknowledge it yet. Read more

Life in My 50s: Reclaim your joy, your truth, your life

I find this whole midlife, midcentury thing to be more interesting than I originally expected when I hit the big 5-0 last fall. What I’m finding is that it’s not so much a rebirth but a birth, plain and simple. I’m being born into the second half of my life, or what I hope will be the second half of my life if I have genes even remotely like my paternal grandmother, who is 100. This birth is difficult and exciting and painful, as any birth might be. At every turn I find myself up against an “old” or current version of myself. Is this where I want to be? Where should I go next, and how do I get there? I find myself wanting to redirect the path and reclaim various parts of my life — my time, my style, my joy,  my truth. But, in the words of Pilate, what is truth? Read more

Keeping my balance in an off-kilter world

The deacon who preached the homily at Mass this weekend used a story told by the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin to make his point. It was the story of a prophet who, of course, preached what people needed to hear but what they didn’t always like to hear — repentance and reformation and righteousness — and little by little his audience disappeared. Some even turned on him.

One day someone asked the prophet why he continued to preach when it was clear that no one was listening. He replied that although at first he preached in hopes that he would change others, now he preached in hopes that others would not change him.

Whammo! That got my attention. That’s exactly where I feel I am these days. Much of my “preaching” feels like nothing more than the conversations I have with myself in my own head or, on many occasions, in my own office or kitchen as I’m padding around checking emails or washing dishes.

I try to share my journey here whenever I can. Sometimes that means photos of kids doing silly things or close-ups of my latest cooking creations, but often it means divulging a little piece of my soul, which is never easy and always scary. I feel a bit like that fuzzy caterpillar in the photo at the top of this post, inching his way along the gravel road of a horse farm. Talk about putting yourself out there. But sometimes that’s what you’ve got to do.

Like over the past two weeks. Several times I inched my way out into a sometimes-hostile world to talk about my political position of “independent” and what it means to me, to discuss the obvious connection between vegetarianism and being pro-life, and to “let my pro-life freak flag fly,” the most scary of all my posts because I knew how much some would hate it. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. Squish.

And I have to admit there was part of me that wondered why I would do that to myself. Why open myself up for the inevitable backlash — whether through nasty comments or the silent treatment? What’s the point?

When I heard our deacon tell the story about the the prophet (And, trust me, I know full well I’m not a prophet, so, please, no nasty comments about that!), it really hit me like a ton of bricks because I think that’s exactly what I’ve been doing lately. I’ve been preaching my message, letting my freak flag fly in order to keep myself from being changed by the world around me. Even if I am preaching for no one but myself, I guess that’s enough.

So I’m willing to take the occasional criticism, silence, or outright unfriending if that’s what it means to be true to myself and to remember what it is that guides my core and keeps me centered in a world increasingly off balance.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” — John 1:5