US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Connect with God and the Earth by praying with the four elements

How to pray with earth, wind, fire, and air.

By Christine Valters Paintner |
Article Your Faith

How necessary it is for monks to work in the fields, in the rain, in the sun, in the mud, in the clay, in the wind: these are our spiritual directors and our novice-masters. They form our contemplation. They instill us with virtue. They make us as stable as the land we live in.
—Thomas Merton, The Sign of Jonas

According to the Celtic Christian tradition, there are two books of divine revelation: the book of scripture and the book of nature. Creation itself is a sacred text through which the presence of God is revealed to us. 

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How Catholics pray is as diverse as the church itself

‘U.S. Catholic’ readers share how they pray.

By Shanna Johnson |
Article Your Faith

In 2018 Pew estimated that 50 million Catholic adults live in the United States. That’s a lot of Catholics—and we don’t all practice our faith the same way. From daily Mass to meditation and yoga, there are many ways to pray. U.S. Catholic surveyed readers to find out how they connect with God. 

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Let the Liturgy of the Hours restructure your mind and heart

This ancient prayer connects Christians with all of creation.

By Sister Rhonda Miska |
Article Your Faith

My first experience of praying the Liturgy of the Hours—also called the divine office—was hardly love at first sight. I was an 18-year-old college freshman, and my friend Samantha invited me to pray morning prayer with her. Not fully awake, I made my way down to the residence hall lobby and tried to follow Samantha as we moved through Lauds. Although she had arranged various colored ribbons to mark the correct pages in the thick breviary, I kept losing my place as I clumsily flipped from antiphons to psalms to the intercessions.

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Why lapsed Catholics can be our best teachers

Lapsed artists are still pilgrims, walking in the mystery of God.

By Jessica Mesman |
Article Your Faith

Whether I’m reading, watching a movie, listening to music, or looking at visual art, I’ve found I can usually spot artists who bear the stamp of the religious imagination, even if they aren’t directly engaging with religion in their work. It goes like this: An old Patty Griffin song comes up in my music rotation, sparking a moment of recognition in me, and on a hunch I Google her and find out her dad was discerning to be a Benedictine monk before he married her mom.

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Looking for an active spiritual life? Try memorizing prayers.

To learn prayers by heart is to ensure they are there when you need God the most.

By Teresa Coda |
Article Lifestyle Your Faith

I could hardly believe it when I found myself reciting the Hail Mary as I was quickly wheeled into the operating room for an emergency C-section this past January. While the predominant emotions of the final moments leading up to my daughter’s birth were fear (“Will my baby be OK?”) and disappointment (“This isn’t going as I hoped it would.”), I also remember surprise that this particular prayer surfaced to my consciousness. Before the surgery, it had been years since I had prayed to Mary.

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The laypeople seeking a monastic life in the modern world

Are oblates the future of monastic orders?

By Judith Valente |
Article Your Faith

The adobe Abbey of Our Lady of Guadalupe sits in the mountainous high desert of New Mexico, some 25 miles from Santa Fe. It is a popular destination for retreatants, an oasis of prayer and peace alongside the Pecos River. Only eight monks reside at Our Lady of Guadalupe. The abbey, however, has 270 lay associates—men and women who live and work in the secular world but seek to follow the Benedictine values of community, hospitality, humility, simplicity, prayer, and praise in their daily lives.

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Can social media connect us to God?

Despite having a bad rap, social media can create a rich faith community and deeper spiritual life, says this writer.

By Molly Jo Rose |
Article Culture

One bright morning in December, I broke my usual Sunday fast from technology to scroll through Instagram. My kids were dressed and the diaper bag was packed, so I had a few minutes before Mass to slump down on the couch overlooking our bay window and watch the snow on our lawn begin to melt due to the balmy 43-degree temperature in Fort Wayne.

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12 Celtic spiritual practices that celebrate God in our world

Renew your spiritual life and community worship with these adaptations of ancient Christian practices.

By Christine Valters Paintner |
Article Your Faith

Celtic Christian spirituality refers to a set of practices and beliefs in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales that developed in the early fifth century during the development of the monastic tradition. Many of these practices have roots in desert spirituality; Celtic monks considered the teachings of the desert mothers and fathers essential wisdom. 

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An avid reader? Consider the spiritual practice of lectio divina

Through this meditation, texts both secular and sacred become part of a reader’s heart and soul.

By Jean P. Kelly |
Article Your Faith

I sometimes picture myself in a nursing home where my family and friends complain about having to empty my pockets of notes, reminders, and quotes stashed here and there lest I forget good advice. They’ll also have to manage an avalanche of prayer books, anthologies, and texts on my bedside stand, never shelved just in case I need to find, in a weak moment, a favorite passage, part, or prayer.

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What happens when you put Jesus’ name on repeat?

The Jesus Prayer invokes a living God who is present in every aspect of creation.

By Jeffrey Essmann |
Article Your Faith

When I made my final profession as a Benedictine oblate last summer, Brother Luke, one of the monks at the monastery I’d just pledged myself to, gave me a welcome-to-the-community gift: a hand-tied prayer rope of 33 knots (one for each year of Jesus’ life) with a small Byzantine cross attached. (Brother Luke’s grandparents were Byzantine Orthodox, and he nearly joined a Byzantine monastic order before settling on the Benedictines.) I was unfamiliar with prayer ropes at the time but thought it was a sweet gift.

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