January: A Blizzard of Lists

“The list is the origin of culture. It’s part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order – not always, but often. And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists, through catalogs, through collections in museums and through encyclopedias and dictionaries.” –Umberto Eco, Italian novelist, 1932-2016

Self-examination booksThe making of lists – whether it be a list of New Year’s resolutions, books to read, places to go, weekly errands and to-dos – is a comforting, reassuring way for us to gain a sense of order amidst the all too often chaotic, frenzied lives we lead.

Particularly in a New Year, as we reflect upon our accomplishments and failures of the year before and the ambitions and hopes of the year ahead, creating lists can help us us clearly define a plan for moving forward and making progress in our lives – whether on a personal, professional or spiritual level. Read more

A New Year’s Message For All

The Vatican
Vatican City; Rome, Italy

“Spiritual Alzheimer’s disease.” “Existential schizophrenia.” “Terrorism of gossip.” “Pathology of power.” These are the words that so forcefully – and, judged by their reception, perhaps unexpectedly – echoed through the ‘Sala Clementina’ of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican, during Pope Francis’ annual Christmas address to the Curia – the Vatican’s administrative apparatus.

Described as one of the “harshest criticisms to date of the Curia” and a “blistering attack on the Vatican bureaucracy,” it was an address that has caused quite a stir in the national and international media alike, as a headline from the Religion News Service so astutely captured: “Pope Francis to Curia: Merry Christmas, you power-hungry hypocrites.”

Intended as it was for the Curia’s assembled members, I think there is some underlying wisdom that laymen – or the general public at large – can take away from the Pope’s message, particularly during the start of a new year. Read more