Give Peace a Chance









On December 10, 2013, the eyes, ears, and hearts of the world were focused on Soweto, South Africa, on the occasion of a memorial service to remember the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela. Mandela will be remembered for a great many things, including his commitment to peacemaking and nonviolence in his later years. However, in a way unlike Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or Mahatma Gandhi, with whom Mandela will be remembered as a great world leader of liberation, Mandela’s relationship to nonviolence and peacemaking was especially complex.

The Way of Heroic Virtue: Mother Angelica

The first time I walked down the long hallway toward the reception room of EWTN, I saw a portrait of Mother Angelica (1923-2016) smiling at me with a mischievous look in her eye. She seemed to be saying, “It’s about time you got here. Are you ready to rock the boat and have some fun?” I couldn’t help it; I responded out loud, “Yes, Mother Angelica, I am ready to have some fun!”

Follower of Saint Francis: Father Larry Nickels, OFM

Image: Statues in winter. Marketa.

The daily average temperature in St. Louis during January is 31.8 degrees Fahrenheit, just below freezing. For those who make their homes in the area called South City, the threat of having utilities turned off due to lack of payment is very real. In this environment, a small organization called the Franciscan Connection stands ready to assist those facing challenging financial situations.  

Encountering Darkness, Rising from Grief

I ask the dark, have you come for my heart?

I stand at their gravesides in the blue dress someone found for me to wear. The sleeves are stiff, irritating the tender skin of my empty arms. I watch. I am a girl in a dress the color of the sky, and all that remains from the threshing floor of my life are the names of things.

A Lost (Pet) Weekend

Image: Jens Schott Knudsen.

These notes are prompted in part by my granddaughter Norah wondering about why "water was leaking from my eyes" while we were in a great state of uncertainty about recovering our beloved dog Choie. Some of you might think in some way that this is really a "First World problem" of a fairly middle-class guy fretting over the loss of his, of all breeds, Shih Tzu.

Catholic Prayer: A Surprise within a Surprise

Image: Wayne S. Grazio.

In the preparation of the book, Prayer in the Catholic Tradition: A Handbook of Practical Approaches, I wanted to surprise the readers but, in the process of editing the 45 contributions, something unforeseen also happened to me. I experienced deeply for myself the richness, breadth, and relevance of Catholic prayer as never before.

The Mercy of Saint Francis


Wrestling with God

Image: flickr.

Can you imagine being startled out of sleep in the middle of the deep darkness of a desert night in a full on grappling match with God? In the Old Testament we see the story of Jacob awaking to find himself in that very situation. He woke in the middle of the night—and the middle of the desert—and found he was not alone. Genesis 32:24 tells us that he “wrestled with him until daybreak.” As jujitsu fighters refer to it, he was “rolling” on the desert dirt and being slammed up against car-size rocks. This was the longest mixed martial arts fight in history, with no timeouts and no referee to stop the fight.

Forgiveness and Mercy: A Holy Union

Image: Israel Tourism.

Each year I’m privileged to visit the Holy Land to promote the nearly 800-year-old mission of the Franciscans there. With each visit, I discover something new. God is always at work, opening up new insights for any pilgrim who visits this ancient land. This spring I spent nearly a week with the friars who live at and minister in the great Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth. During my stay I explored this modern church—consecrated in 1969—each day with my camera, photographing the contemporary artwork and striking architecture which helps the visitor come closer to the mystery of the Incarnation.

God Is Not Fair (in the Best Possible Way)

Image: Joshua Stannard.

I’m always struck by the zealous insistence of fairness as a rule that first appears in childhood when parents pronounce a decision that some child renders unjust: “That’s not fair!” Growing up with three younger brothers, this experience was all too common throughout my early life. Sometimes it was an older brother like me who was given extra leeway, which upset the younger siblings who wanted the same freedom. Other times it was the younger brothers who were permitted to do something or stay up later than the older siblings were at that age, which seemed unfair in retrospect. In both cases, the feeling was one of personal slight.