I spent most of the first full week of June tuned into the Catholic Media Conference, the annual gathering of the Catholic Media Association.
Looking across a barren field on a frosty morning, I see an abstract quilt of colors and textures. Scraggily golden cornstalks, dark stripes of ploughed land, stripped grayed soybeans, dried-down alfalfa.
In 1859, the radical abolitionist John Brown was executed for treason and murder after leading raids and uprisings. Raised in a Calvinist, anti-slavery home, he was so moved by an 1837 abolition meeting that he swore to dedicate his life to ending slavery. Many lives were lost – including three of his sons – as he launched his guerilla warfare.
Ah, an election year. A marvelous time to pack up, set sail and drop anchor near some South Sea island, perhaps. Take a long vacation. Until, say, mid-November.
Advent is an opportunity to examine one’s conscience – all the penance services and confession sessions are an excellent reminder of inevitable human failing – and even bathed in the beauty of the Christmas season, we are all aware (especially if we have small children!) of the potential pitfalls of the holidays.
Back in March, a Lublin man who’d recently joined a cult vandalized St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Neillsville, just across the border in the Diocese of La Crosse. He threw things around, broke statuary, desecrated the altar and generally destroyed as much as possible in a short amount of time.
When I was a child, perhaps 11 or 12 years old, my mother came home from church or a prayer meeting – some religious gathering – with a manila envelope. She said the photos inside were disturbing, and asked if I wanted to see them. I said yes.