The appointment finally made, my husband and I felt quite mature as we entered our lawyer's office to write our will. Right away, I was surprised when our lawyer said, "Well, you're writing two wills." We had talked for so long about writing a will that, in my mind, it was a singular documen…

As any person of faith can confirm, a loving relationship with God requires a healthy slice of time and effort. I admit up front that I am not great at this relationship: I do not spend enough time on God. I get busy. I get distracted. I forget. Prayer is often far down on my to-do list.

One of the more perplexing mysteries of faith is that we thank God when things go right, but we aren’t supposed to blame God when things go wrong. Why not? If God is all-powerful and all-knowing, why do tragedies happen? Does God have a mean streak, or a monthly quota for heart attacks and m…

The pronoun wars have become personal: A member of my family identifies as gender-queer and has requested that we honor them by using the pronouns "they/them/their" instead of the exclusively masculine or feminine ones when referring to them.

Thanks to the new normal of the COVID-19 pandemic, I now own a bunch of cloth face masks. Some are homemade. Some are store-bought. Some convey messages. Some are plain. Some are adjustable. Some wash well. Some are better than others at not fogging up my glasses. I keep one mask in the car,…

The 25th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew is one of the few biblical citations I know by heart: We Catholics are not big on memorizing chapter and verse. Matthew 25 offers the blueprint for the work of Catholic social justice, which Jesus lays out clearly in the parable of the sheep and the …

My exciting pastime for 2021 is keeping track of the vaccination status of my family members. Since we are spread over four states, it’s been interesting — and a bit maddening — to note the differing priorities and rules among the states.

President Biden has designated April 2021 as “Second Chance Month,” which is really good news for all Americans. In his proclamation, the president specifically refers to formerly incarcerated individuals, who benefit from a second chance to rejoin their community and contribute to society.

Every marriage has those moments of clarity, flashes of insight when you completely get that your decision to marry this person was either excellent or faulty. My first flash came soon after my freshly married husband and I moved from Los Angeles to Minneapolis.

March 14 is known in some circles as Pi Day, because 3.14 is the decimal amount used to solve equations involving pi. I think the fractional expression of pi is 22/7. I don’t really know what I’m talking about: I remember learning something about pi as a useful formula to solve problems in m…

You might feel it sometimes when you look up at a clear night sky, at the scads of faraway stars and the vastness of the universe: you sense your own smallness. It can happen when you lose someone you love, and you compare the short span of a human life to the millions of years of history. O…

It takes all kinds, my grandmother used to say, meaning that the world would be a dull place indeed if everyone were alike. She sometimes said it in a reproachful way, like when the young man I liked had a ponytail. (I grew up in the time of hippies.) We all-kinds are gloriously different, e…

You may have received this popular gift for Christmas, the kit that looks like a science project and promises to unearth the secrets your DNA holds. You want to learn about your true ancestry, your future genetic health risks, your unknown half-siblings? You just spit into the tube provided,…

Perhaps no new year has been as anxiously anticipated as the upcoming flip of the calendar from 2020 to 2021. Our rational minds know that there is no real substantial change from Dec. 31 of the present year to Jan. 1 of the next, but our hearts soar at the prospect of leaving 2020 far behin…

Advent begins tomorrow, the first Sunday of a new year in the church. This past year has certainly been one we want to close out. The calamitous calendar year 2020 will not actually end for another long month, but perhaps the advent of Advent can inspire us with hope for a new beginning.

Back when I was a religious volunteer at a state prison, I sometimes had to correct people. “That’s not a necklace,” I remember telling an inmate, when I noticed he wore around his neck one of the simple rosaries that had been donated to the Catholic chapel on the yard. I had to explain that…

The number 40 in the Bible is used to signify a really long time before something important happens: 40 days and nights of unrelenting rain for Noah keeping the faith in his ark, 40 years of wandering for God’s chosen people before they get to the Promised Land, 40 days of fasting for Jesus …

The coronavirus pandemic has robbed many of us of the comfort of being with family. I’m speaking for myself: Although my oldest daughter and I talk weekly, we have seen each other in person only once since the sheltering-in-place got real in late March. She quarantined herself for 14 days la…

To be Catholic is to be comfortable with mystery. It is a matter of faith that some of the things Catholics believe in, like the Trinity or the virgin birth or the transubstantiation of bread and wine into Jesus’ body and blood, cannot be explained. The human rational mind cannot fathom the …

How to start this column? Maybe with a proposal: If you are a white person who doesn’t believe white privilege is a thing, stay with me. Just for 900 words. I know that you have possibly sworn never to read another word of mine, but humor me. I can explain white privilege to you, because I h…

Those of us who recall the feminist glow in the country when the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution won federal approval are finding our memories rekindled by the nine-part FX on Hulu series “Mrs. America.”

“Write about a time when you experienced a stroke of luck, good or bad,” invited the writing prompt. As I thought about what to write, a terrible realization hit me: The COVID-19 pandemic has been lucky for me.

It’s a different Mother’s Day this year, just like absolutely everything in all of life is different this year. Those of us with end-of-March birthdays got to pioneer the strange new coronavirus birthday celebration, either partying without people or gathering with trepidation. Mine was take…

On Palm Sunday I went to Mass in Chicago, even though I live 2,000 miles away. As I watched the livestreamed Sunday liturgy from a seat at my kitchen table, I saw that 5,400 other devices were doing the same thing. That’s at least 5,400 Catholics from all over the country at one Mass. We wer…

The pandemic known as COVID-19 has been a nondenominational thief. The precautions we’ve had to take against catching or transmitting the novel coronavirus have robbed us of many things we hold sacred at this time of year: spring break vacations and spring trainings, Passover Seders and East…

Sometimes our faith institutions get things wrong: Remember that the Catholic Church in the 17th century condemned Galileo’s work, and that American Christians in the 1800s were pro-slavery. We don’t always pay attention to the Gospels, and we don’t always model our own behavior on Christ.

Packing for a move is half torture, half adventure. You get sick of boxes and packing tape and decisions, but you also come across crazy beloved stuff you’d forgotten about and that induce dangerous levels of nostalgia. You pause, you remember, and then you think: Do I need to bring this int…

The Bible's Book of Psalms speaks to many believers in many ways. The psalms transcend language and culture, geography and history, race and creed, as they translate the human experience of God into sacred poetry. It is well known that the psalms have sounded in the prayer of generations; ho…

Because famous people have little privacy, everyone knows that the host of the game show "Jeopardy!," Alex Trebek, is battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer, even as he continues to work. At 79, Mr. Trebek still seems perfectly healthy each evening on TV, as he guides three contestants through a…

History has nicknamed the decade of the 1920s the Roaring ’20s, because lots of things were roaring at the time: the economy, the stock market, disposable income, inventions like the automobile, new technology like the radio, the women’s suffrage movement, jazz music, the illegal market for …

Dec. 28 marks the Feast of the Holy Innocents on the Catholic liturgical calendar. It is also the birthday of my first child. At the time of her birth, it pained me to think that this most joyous day in my life commemorated such a terrible tragic day for the mothers of ancient Bethlehem.

Finally: something for which I am grateful to the president of the United States. On the way to getting himself impeached for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, he has given us the enduring gift of excellent female role models. Thank you, Mr. President, for the chance to get to know…

As the blessed weeks of Advent begin, the stores and websites are already in full holiday swing: deals and sales and special offers, TODAY ONLY! Everywhere we go, there are twinkling trees and reimagined Christmas carols, grande peppermint mochas and matching reindeer pajamas for the whole f…

Ah, the soundtrack of my morning: the 10 a.m. Roomba call. Five musical notes that sound like they’re being played on a ballpark organ announce its impending rounds. The Roomba is the unmanned drone of house-cleaning tools.

My excuse for missing Mass for three weeks in a row was thin at best: I’d had knee surgery and couldn’t put any weight on my tender knee, conveniently ignoring the fact that genuflecting is not a requirement for Mass attendance. Plenty of people go to Mass and don’t manage to kneel. I knew t…

Welcome into the midst of the Season of Creation, which runs each year from Sept. 1 to Oct. 4. It is a time of Christian prayer and action to honor and preserve God’s wondrous work. A little history: Sept. 1 is the World Day of Prayer for Creation, which was initiated in 1989 by Ecumenical P…

As I age, I am learning in a personal way about all the things that can go wrong with the human body as it progresses through its time on planet Earth. Take knees, for example. The marvelously complex knee is the largest joint in the human body, joining the thigh bone, or femur, to the calf …

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