I was interviewing Trappist monks as part of a qualitative research project, asking each of them: “What is essential in order to be compassionately loving towards others?” ... [T]he abbot’s comment about accepting yourself was not one I expected to hear. I did not expect the monks to focus at all on the self as part of loving others.
"Of all the “Hallmark holidays” we mark with a flurry of commercial sentimentalities, red roses, and more sugar than anyone needs, Valentine’s Day may be the smarmiest. I’m aware that there’s some risk in opening an essay on such a curmudgeonly note; it comes from a certain longing I feel each year to meet the challenge of Valentine’s Day with something that contributes authentically to deepening real love relationships that seem so inadequately celebrated by chocolates and dinner reservations."
Theologian Kyle Strobel explores Jonathan Edwards' understanding of the command to "love your neighbor as yourself."
Thomas Merton offers stark and raw commentary on the meaning and importance of Christ being rejected even from "this demented inn." A beautiful expression of the glory and shock of Christmas.
Marilyn Chandler McEntyre transmits one of the final instructions she received from a beloved mentor. She comments on what it means to "afford to live," expanding our concepts of virtues like generosity and humility, and noting the extravagance of God in his dealings with his creation.
Pastor, theologian, and anti-Nazi dissident comments on power, oppression, courage, and humility in light of Christmas.
"Even though I remember longing to escape the smells, the distasteful piles of clutter, and what seemed a palpable despair in Mr. Wilson’s lonely household, I also remember admiring my mother’s capacity to find him in the midst of the detritus and offer him warmth, conversation, and even a little laughter without condescension or judgment."