Christ’s latest disguise: A poncho and an umbrella

I could tell from the water dripping down the inside of my sleeve that my beloved raincoat — the very raincoat I’d purchased to cover the papal conclave following the historic resignation of a pope — had finally given up on keeping me dry. My disappointment was not only because I was getting soaked; in a funny way I’d considered that coat a “holy” raincoat. I’d worn it to countless events involving popes, cardinals, bishops, brothers, nuns — you name it. It had protected me from the elements on at least three continents, through every conceivable weather condition, and it …

The Sorrowful Mysteries for athletes

Anyone who runs, rides or trains for athletic things knows that there’s a degree of suffering that goes along with it. It doesn’t really matter if you’re a person who’s just started jogging or a seasoned professional ready to run their 10th marathon, training can be brutal. A few months ago, in a fit of insanity, I signed up for my first triathlon. I had no idea how much training and effort would be involved, but perhaps that was a good thing because had I known … So in the countless hours I’m putting into running, riding and swimming I find …

Meeting the living God in the New Mexico desert

I remember looking out the airplane window marveling at the huge rock formations that seemed to shoot forth from the expansive red sand below, and wondering what this new adventure would bring. Such a barren land – strikingly similar to Jordan and other areas of the Middle East that I’d visited – right here in the United States. Below me was New Mexico. It might as well have been Mars. Read on…

How watching Catholic bishops talk about Catholic layfolk had a surprising effect on me

In my role as Art Director for Aleteia.org, I’ve had an exciting and faith-affirming 2016: to travel to Poland to photograph the crowds (and experience the power) of World Youth Day; I went to India to cover the canonization of Mother Teresa, and discovered there a world of pain and poverty, and selfless giving, that left me – still has me – reeling. On assignment for EWTN, I was privileged to witness the intimate grief of humble Poor Clare nuns, mourning Mother Angelica. So, when the National Catholic Register assigned me to cover the General Assembly of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, in Baltimore, …

I’m back from Calcutta and still having nightmares

I didn’t want to write this. Probably because I didn’t want to think about it. Since I returned home from Calcutta, I’ve been trying to shake off what first seemed like a major case of jetlag. I’ve been referring to it as my “India hangover.” I’m battling extreme fatigue and trying to laugh it off, and I’ve been waking up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night, terrified that I’m still there. I’ve been avoiding conversations about it, and not even wanting to archive the photos I took. Something’s been seriously off. So this morning, in an …

The Sacred Trail

I don’t remember the exact moment it happened, but I remember the pain. It was March 13, 2013. I was standing in St. Peter’s Square in Rome at the Papal Conclave waiting with several other journalists for some smoke to arise either announcing the new pope or not. It felt like someone had jammed a hot knife into my right shoulder, it was absolutely blinding. The pain began to radiate out and in a few moments I couldn’t feel the fingers in my right hand. Perfect. I had been on assignment to cover the Conclave, which was rather chaotic and …

The Prayer of the Atheist

Don’t judge me, but I love heavy metal music. In fact, I spent the first half of my adult life completely immersed in the genre. It has a certain guttural power that other forms of music lack, and there’s something deeply visceral and rebellious that is at its heart. All I know is that I love it. So when I reverted to the Catholic faith and I began to seek out that relationship of all relationships with Jesus Christ, certain ‘things’ started to nag at me as my conscience became awakened. For example, ‘Man in a Box’ by Alice in …

I put away my camera in Calcutta … and learned to see

Today I put away my camera to join the volunteers who assist the Missionaries of Charity with their work. There were about 80 of us, of different nationalities, religions, and backgrounds, deployed as one unit into the field. Knowing no one and nothing of navigating the streets of Calcutta posed some challenges, but my friend Sr. Ita came to my rescue again and introduced me to two volunteers from Egypt, Bassem and Iriny, who happened to be going to the locations I was. Continue reading…

Calcutta celebrates the canonization of Mother Teresa

Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta — where Mother Teresa first heard her call to help the poorest of the poor — joyfully celebrated today the canonization of their founder. As the Pope in Rome officially declared Mother Teresa a canonized saint, her sisters in India celebrated with volunteers, children and other devotees of the tireless nun who brought the attention of the world to the plight of the poor. “Following Jesus is a serious task, and, at the same time, one filled with joy; it takes a certain daring and courage to recognize the divine Master in the poorest of …

I touched her arm… and she touched my heart

Today I went to the Motherhouse not knowing what to expect, but knowing I had to be there. During this time in Calcutta, I’ve been praying to Mother Teresa, asking her to direct and guide me … to tell or show me what she wants to be revealed through what I do. The morning was simple enough. I attended a 6:00 a.m. Mass with the sisters and volunteers and then spent some time at the foot of Mother Teresa’s tomb. I prayed, I took some photos, and I wrote about seeing the face of Christ in the Poor. It was …