US Catholic Faith in Real Life

To nourish your spirituality, go hands-on in the kitchen

Baking bread can be a profound spiritual lesson.

By Meghan Murphy-Gill |
Article Your Faith

I have a new living organism—for lack of a better term—to feed in my house. It is my sourdough starter, a beige and pasty mix of wheat flour, water, and yeast that lives in a glass jar in the back of the refrigerator. Once a week it visits the kitchen counter, where it is replenished with water, flour, and oxygen. I sometimes divide it and use half for sourdough crackers or flatbread.

For this Chicago pastor, community justice means food justice

When you become a community-oriented church, the needs of your neighborhood become your reality.

By A U.S. Catholic interview |
Article Justice

Jonathan Brooks, known as “Pastah J” at Canaan Community Church in Englewood, a Chicago neighborhood, is quick to say that his church is community oriented, not justice oriented. “Justice is the result of living in community with one another,” he says. Parishes often focus on big issues such as creating world peace. Instead, says Brooks, they should build up their own community.

At your next celebration, invite someone new

Community is built around the table.

By Evelyn Bence |
Article Lifestyle

“What is your favorite Jesus story? And why?” A dozen women gave quick answers. I said, “Jesus grilling breakfast for the disciples. ‘Come and dine.’ It connects him with me, especially when I’m in the kitchen with a neighbor teen; ‘Nina’ comes over and we cook together, especially on Saturday mornings.” 

These monks are in the habit (of brewing beer)

What would Thomas Merton say?

By Jessie Bazan |
Article Lifestyle

At 10:00 a.m., Fr. Isaac Keeley pauses to pray. But this Trappist monk isn’t shuffling into a choir stall flanked by icons for his mid-morning ritual. The space where he and his brother monks gather doesn’t reek of incense, either. Instead there is another distinct smell wafting around: hops. Yes, a few of the monks of Spencer Abbey pray the “little hours” together in a brewery—their own brewery, no less.

 “I don’t know what Thomas Merton would say about this!” Keeley laughs.  

Cheers to community

For community, trade a pew for a bar stool.

By Jessie Bazan |
Article Lifestyle

Saturdays in college are for friends and beer. Walk near any campus apartment or frat house after dark and you will hear the chorus of clinking bottles and crushing cans. Some packs of pals prefer to venture out to local bars, while others stay home and pound back a few cold ones over board games. During our senior year, brewery outings were my weekly ritual. My friend Emily and I toured a different brewery every Saturday afternoon. It was our regular time to relax, swap stories, and raise a glass to the week ahead.

For some Catholics, a vegetarian diet goes hand in hand with faith

What we eat is related to what we believe.

By Jeannine M. Pitas |
Article Lifestyle

I suspect “Catholic” is not the first identity marker most people think of when they think of a vegetarian. Yet for many Catholics—myself included—a vegetarian or vegan diet is an integral part of our religious practice.

Darleen Pryds, a professor of Christian history and spirituality at the Franciscan School of Theology in Oceanside, California, says that being mindful about the food you eat can be a spiritual practice. “It’s a Franciscan approach to spirituality, focusing on poverty and simplicity,” she says. “For me, the very basis of that habit has always been food.”

The Bible’s famines, fasts, and feasts

A close look at scripture shows the importance of food throughout human history.

By Alice Camille |
Article Your Faith

The first meal ever recorded in the Bible was pretty sparse: a mythical piece of fruit. Today this would amount to a healthy snack. At the time, it was the most harmful bite imaginable. Of course, the story in Genesis 3 isn’t about eating so much as it is about hunger. We humans seem to be hungry all the time. We crave food and drink, sweet and salty flavors available to many of us at arm’s length. But we’re also hungry for the love and support of others, for attention and recognition.

Was your food made by slaves?

A humanitarian crisis lurks in our modern food delivery system.

By Kevin Clarke |
Article Justice News

Strolling your supermarket aisles, you have one eye on your family’s food needs for the week and another on whatever bargains you may be able to pull off the shelf. You can be forgiven if, coupons in hand, you’re not worrying about avoiding food that includes hidden ingredients like, well, slavery. Sadly, in today’s interconnected food marketplace, compelled or uncompensated labor—even child slavery—provides a reliable competitive edge for many food exporters.

The parish garden that brings faith down to earth

A nonprofit organization helps churches put down roots—both in the soil and the community.

By Wyatt Massey |
Article Justice

Every week, hands plunge into the earth at St. Benedict the African East Catholic Church in Englewood, a neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. Around five raised-bed plots and six container gardens church volunteers, police and fire department baseball league players, and various community members pull weeds, plant flowers, and get to know one another.

The “Garden of Eatin’ ” grows tomatoes, kale, peppers, eggplant, and salad greens. The congregation shares the crops and donates the excess to the local food pantry, says Susan Rashad, founder of the parish’s garden club.