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 …

If you know me, you may not believe that I would ever write these words, but I have become a fan of Kim Kardashian. Believe me: It’s a shock to me, too. I have never had any interest in Keeping Up with the Kardashians, although pop culture news is often so salted with references to the Karda…

One of my favorite things about a family vacation is the enforced togetherness. The hours confined in the car on a road trip, the meals at unfamiliar diners, the odd roadside attraction that you actually convince your dad to stop at, can all bolster the bonds of blood.

Another priest has disappeared from my Catholic radar. For the third time, a priest whose homilies have regularly touched my heart has vanished from the public eye under a veil of scandal.

The Catholic laity, or us laypeople, are most often and most easily defined in negative terms, by what we are not. We are not ordained priests or bishops; neither are we sisters or brothers or nuns or monks. We are just the regular people, the folks in the pews, the ordinary churchgoers expe…

The word "‘mother" denotes a biological relationship, a maternal branch on the family tree. Everybody has one, and everyone’s is unique. The word itself comes in many languages — mother, mater, madre, mère, mutter, mzazi — and breaks down into many nicknames — ma, mama, mom, mum, mami, marme…

Mental flashbacks to 2002 have plagued my brain lately. That was the year, dramatized in the movie "Spotlight," when a series of Boston Globe articles exposed the scandal of the clergy’s sexual abuse of children in the local Catholic Church. In 2002 I worked for the church across the country…

On what was supposed to be a four-day beach house getaway with three of my four daughters, I missed a step. I don’t mean this metaphorically: My right foot literally missed the step down from the porch as we were unloading our bags from the car.

As a woman over 50 (ahem!), I have some thoughts to share with Yann Moix. Who, one might ask, is Yann Moix? I confess I’d never heard of him either before I came across his provocative assertion that women over 50 are “invisible” to him. I have since learned that he is a 50-year-old French n…

While I was out-of-state over the Christmas holiday, I went to Mass at a parish not my own. The thing about Mass somewhere new is that even though the building and the presider and the music and the liturgical details and the people around you are completely unknown to you, the Mass is the M…

My mother, God rest her soul, was a smart woman in her day. She was an excellent student up through her high school graduation. She could calculate numbers quickly. She could spell any word. She read a lot, and she remembered almost every detail she either read about or came across in real l…

A certain car magnet seems to have been slapped onto every vehicle in the church parking lot: “KEEP CHRIST IN CHRISTMAS” it reads, captioning the outline of a manger scene. Some men are handing them out. An old guy gives me a dirty look when I don’t take one. I assume he is one of the Warrio…

When I was a kid, I was afraid of Frankenstein and Dracula, which was understandable because my brother told me that these two monsters actually lived in the closet in our basement. But I wonder now, how come the thing I feared most of all as a child was lava? I was terrified of the rush of …

My husband and I met and became friends and fell in love when we were theater students at the University of Dallas in the last century. Decades of marriage and four daughters later, we’d been invited to a reunion covering 50 years of the UD drama department.

We know that feeling: the awe and wonder that washes over us when we find ourselves amidst the splendor of God’s green earth. We know this feeling when we marvel at the expanse of the ocean or look up in a forest of tall trees or hike through a blooming meadow or climb a steep high peak. At …

When the women warriors who fought for equal voting rights saw the 19th Amendment become law, they probably did not imagine that 98 years later, we’d still be slogging though the swamp of sexism. But we are. Female folks, please realize that our vote matters more than ever this November.