• Epiphany: A Feast of Light

    Several years ago, I had a student in my English class who was blind from birth—Charlie had lost his eyesight due to oxygenation at his premature delivery, weighing less than two pounds when he came into the world. We were reading Shakespeare’s King Lear that day. Not an easy thing to do... Read more
  • The Reality of Christmas as an Antidote to Unreal Times

    At Christmas we celebrate the birth of the Word made flesh. All the Gospel writers (especially St. John) emphasize the reality of God present among us in a very tangible, physical way. This is a critical truth because one of the dangers is reducing our faith to a mere collection of ideas, setting... Read more
  • The Incarnation and the Pietá

    The Incarnation of Christ, celebrated in the liturgical season of Christmastide, takes on a richer significance for me with each passing year. The story of the Nativity is fuller–but undeniably stranger. It loses the saccharine quality of greeting cards and becomes complicated. Christmas... Read more
  • The Boys of Bethlehem, and Matthew’s dilemma

    How do we read a story like this absent any hope of Creation’s final redemption by God through Christ? This is the dark side of Christmas, the slashing swords of Herod cutting flesh, bone; the blood upon the boys of Bethlehem. Of the events around Christ’s birth it is a lurid, horrid... Read more
  • When Celebrating Christmas was a Crime

    In seventeenth century Old England and New, the celebration of Christmas was banned. Banned in Boston and banned in London, with threats of arrests and penalties for those who violated the law. Within the Church of England, there had been division about the celebration of Christmas, with some... Read more
  • Living the Joyful Mysteries

    As a self-described melancholic temperament, I am not a naturally joyful person.  In fact, I’ve struggled with discovering joy my entire life, mostly because I battle negative thinking and impossibly high expectations (which are never met, of course).  Life always has a way of... Read more
  • Christmas and the Divine Proximity

    In October 2001 I had a long conversation with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. It was but weeks after 9/11; a new century and millennium were opening before us; and I wanted to get Ratzinger’s view on the main issues for the Church and for theology in the twenty-first century. The man who would... Read more
  • Where Have All the Christmas Decorations Gone?

    Where I live – near Los Angeles – you can drive for blocks without seeing a single home with Christmas lights, let alone a manger scene or some other religious decoration. And you can drive miles and see fewer than a dozen. I grew up in Brooklyn, in an area most of whose residents were... Read more
  • Joseph of Nazareth, a Man’s Man

    [caption id="attachment_75544" align="aligncenter" width="900"] Guido Reni (1575-1642), St. Joseph and the Christ Child[/caption] One of the Gospel passages I proclaim at the Liturgy during the last days of Advent contains the words of an angel to Joseph, the foster father of Jesus, and... Read more
  • The Christmas Story’s Best Supporting Actor

    In the drama of the incarnation, Jesus is, of course, the star.  That’s the way it is at every birth.  All eyes are on the baby.  The co-star, though, is definitely mom.  Without her love and labor, the event could not have happened.  In this case, without mom’s faith it couldn’t have... Read more