Letters

Belief before Understanding

“Unless you believe, you will not understand.” Isaiah 7:9 Read that quote again. Notice that most of the world operates the other way around. We first seek to understand and then begin to believe. Indeed, absence of understanding serves as a stumbling block for so many of us in our

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Marian Devotion: Praying WITH Mary TO Christ

The Blessed Virgin Mary is on the cover of Newsweek with the title, “What would Mary do?”  Good question.  In the past year I have been particularly focused on Mary and in developing a Marian devotion.  Due to poor catechism at my schools, my own poor understanding of what I

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Noises in Haiti

Noise in Haiti is its own adventure. Usually there are no less than a dozen noises coming at you at any one time. Most of them are an ordinary array of yelping puppies, fowl, or spewing Creole (men yelling at a cock fight or the bedlam of a pick-up soccer

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Kaleidoscope

As a boy, I was thankful for and humbled by the kaleidoscope. Wandering and bored while shopping with my mom, I’ll never forget the first time I saw one. A dusky brown, dented, cheap-looking metal tube. Deceptively simple and understated. What riches lay there with a mere gaze and rotation

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Cyanosis

Marcus and Danita first came to see me in North Carolina in the mid 1990s. He stood 6’1”, weighed in at 185 pounds, and had brown eyes and blue skin. Marcus’s first words to me set the tone for our visit: “Listen, Doctor Ely, I’m blue ‘cause I was born

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Ricky the Smiling Cab Driver and His Colt Revolver

I was running late and had a cab waiting outside my house for about 20 minutes. As I approached the car, I was profusely apologizing to the man as he stepped out of the car. Then I saw that it was Ricky. He had driven me before on many occasions

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Elie Wiesel on Night

“Indifference, to me, is the epitome of evil. I decided to devote my life to telling the story because I felt that having survived I owe something to the dead, and anyone who does not remember betrays them again.” Elie Wiesel  A white-haired, somewhat disheveled man in his 80s walked

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Call to Holiness in the Here and Now: Lessons from Opus Dei, St. Paul, and William Law

On a recent trip to Austria for a medical meeting, I was surprisingly and thankfully “knocked over the head” three times by the Holy Spirit in a trio of Viennese churches called St. Peter’s, St. Stephen’s, and the JesuitenKirche. Presumably God wanted to emphasize a few points of his Gospel

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Diving Bell and Butterfly

[This story is dedicated to my great uncle Dubba, who left medical school to answer “yes” to a voice he heard in a movie theater one nigh. He became a Benedictine monk. He took the name Brother Marion and lived for over 50 years in the idyllic St. Joseph’s Abbey

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Mary Lou’s Voyage into the Kaleidoscope

As I left my bustling children at school today, I crossed a main thoroughfare in Nashville into the Windsor Tower of condominiums, surrounded by blooms of dogwoods, tulips, and newly bursting azaleas. All of this exuberance from kids and spring flowers was in stark juxtaposition to what I knew was

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