Simply Spirit

Christine Schenk's column is a regular feature of National Catholic Reporter.

My family and the Sacred Heart

It is June and every year around this time my thoughts turn to my Dad, who died nine years ago on June 16, (Father's Day weekend) at age 87. What nudges my memory is the Feast of the Sacred Heart, held this year on June 3, but in 2007 it was celebrated on June 15, the eve of Dad's passing. (The feast follows the liturgical year and is always celebrated 19 days after Pentecost.)

It is time to free Mary and let God have her own maternal face

It is May, and like every good Catholic girl of a certain age, I remember this as the month we celebrate Mary, the mother of Jesus. A lot of terrific recent scholarship is helping my generation recover from earlier interpretations of Mary as a revered (if impossible to imitate) virgin-mother role model often portrayed as silent, passive, and obedient.

Clueless preaching about the Samaritan woman misses the point

Last Sunday the Gospel about Jesus and the Samaritan woman (John 4:5-42) was proclaimed at my parish. (We used the reading from Year A since we have six people entering the church. Other parishes may have used the Year C Gospel, Luke 13:1-9). This reading overflows with good news that "true worship" is not found in any building or cult but in the hearts of believers who worship God "in Spirit and in Truth." Sadly, clueless preachers frequently turn this Gospel into bad news, especially for women.

Challenging the corruption-prone systems that plague our world

Lately I've been thinking about corruption. Maybe it's because we're in the season of Lent. Or perhaps it comes of seeing "The Big Short," a based-on-a-true-story movie about the 2008 meltdown of the housing market. Unscrupulous real estate companies sold millions of subprime mortgages to clueless buyers for homes they couldn't afford. Then greedy bankers bundled and sold the doomed loans to other entities that turned around and sold them yet again.

Muslim-American women seek change from within

Several weeks ago I had the privilege of meeting Nadiah Mohajir, a Muslim-American woman who spoke after a Chicago screening of "Radical Grace," a documentary about Catholic sisters working for justice. For over five years, Nadiah has provided health education programming to over 2,000 Muslim women and girls in the Chicagoland area and cities across the country.