Joe Ecclesia

Latest by Joe Ecclesia in Chronicles

Results: 23 Articles found.
  • Letter to the Bishop
    October 2019

    Letter to the Bishop

    Your Excellency: A few years have passed since we corresponded. After my last letter to you, I’m afraid I took a wrong path, crashed and burned, and now stagger forward, burdened by more ordinary trespasses. But still a believer, grateful, as Graham Greene had the wheezing old priest murmur at the end of Brighton Rock, for “the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God.” Without that tender and inexplicable mercy, so different from any we receive from most human beings, my soul might well burn for eternity like a marshmallow over an open fire.

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  • October 2010

    Broken Windows

    My schedule this past summer gave me the opportunity to attend daily Mass. Nearly every noon found me seated in the pews, garnering the gifts—fewer distractions, the bare-bones order of worship, the solace of quiet prayer—often missing on crowded Sundays. Those 40 minutes of reflection in the middle of a hectic day allowed me to recharge some spiritual batteries.

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  • Sacred Language

    Your Excellency: Doubtless you’ve read about the old days when our country was dotted with one-room schoolhouses. Well, good bishop, I am a one-man school staff: principal, teacher, tutor, and sometime janitor.

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  • Grades and Passes

    This past season of mortification was my most wretched of Lents. The Ash Wednesday promises made to myself and to God lie behind me like spiritual road kill.

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  • January 2010

    The Peter Principle

    All across America this Valentine’s Day platoons of men will stand at the counters of flower shops and grocery stores, clutching cards, chocolates, and roses to their chests, tokens of affection for their wives and lady friends (and sometimes, no doubt, for both).

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  • October 2009


    October and November in these mountains often seem to me a time of melancholy and bereavement, of Demeter grieving the loss of Persephone, the good earth receding into itself.

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  • Preparing for Battle

    May is once again upon us, bringing that mad dash in which you sprint from parish to parish, rubbing oily crosses on the smooth foreheads of gawky teens, confirmandi mentally and spiritually armed to do battle with the dragons facing God’s holy Church.

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  • February 2009

    America's Coldest Winter

    To illustrate how Christians must live in both this world and the next, our parish priest recently quoted a Jesuit who once said: “In our right hand we carry the New York Times. In our left hand we carry the Bible.”

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  • November 2008

    Election Hangover

    I don’t know about you, but I am ready for this campaign season to be as dead as Scrooge’s doornail. For the last month, political commercials have crowded television screens and websites, interrupting even Mayberry reruns and the latest scoop on Paris Hilton.

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  • August 2008

    Yang and Soap Suds

    Right now the weather here is hotter than those vestments Pope Benedict refused to wear for World Youth Day. By noon the sidewalks wiggle with waves of heat, and the very air leaks terrestrial perspiration.

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  • Black Like Me

    I know May is a monster on your calendar, a whirl of confirmations requiring your presence in the backwater outposts of the Faith. The physical demands alone—the hours in the car, the parish suppers, the compliments and complaints—must weigh heavily, if you’ll pardon the pun.

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  • February 2008

    Unsettling Accounts

    One Sunday in September, about 60 adults gathered between Masses in the sanctuary of the basilica to hear a professor from our local university speak on the history of Islam.

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  • November 2007

    All Saints?

    November brings us All Saints’ Day, November 1, that feast when the Church celebrates Her saints, known and unknown, who are with God in His Heaven. Sainthood, Your Excellency, is why I am writing to you.

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  • Abysmal Answers
    August 2007

    Abysmal Answers

    In June, I began reading The Inferno. This is my first excursion into Danteland, as I like to call it. I intended to finish the entire work by summer’s end, but my progress is slow, in part because I keep dozing off.

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  • Guts and the Grace of God

    It’s the lusty month of May, and you are doubtless zipping from parish to parish, dabbing chrism oil onto the foreheads of gawky teenagers. (Incidentally, would you ever consider restoring the slap on the cheek that once accompanied this rite? Several young people of my acquaintance could use one.)

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  • February 2007

    Waste of Space

    Is the winter hiatus between Christmastide and Lent regarded by you men of the cloth as a sort of midterm break, a chance to loosen your clericals and put your feet up, so to speak?

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  • November 2006

    A Plea for Clarity

    I trust you are in robust spirits as you face the rigors of the Christmas season. Surely, nowhere is there greater evidence that sin is a good wrongly twisted than in the manner in which we Americans celebrate Christmas.

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  • August 2006

    The I-Word

    This past May, I attended commencement ceremonies at Christendom College, where James, the oldest son of my oldest friend, was graduating with a degree in philosophy. Some of our fellow countrymen would declare such a degree about as useful as the dresses once modeled by Twiggy.

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  • January 2006

    Seminary Boot Camp

    Please forgive my extended holographic hiatus. What with the “priestly scandals,” the “bishop scandals,” the decline and death of one pope and the election of another, I assumed you and your fellow shepherds had your hands full.

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  • The Fornicators’ Mass

    Recently, I read in our diocesan newspaper of the “gay and lesbian Mass” offered at St. Peter’s Church in Charlotte. According to the article, this Mass was a means of comforting those who have been ostracized by the Church and of ensuring a welcome for homosexuals that would incorporate Church teachings and pastoral concerns.

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Results: 23 Articles found.