Author: Beth Haile

Reflections on a Terminal Diagnosis

I have a brain tumor. Actually two. I was diagnosed last year five days before Christmas. My youngest son was not yet a month old. And my tumors are terminal. Unless something else kills me, my tumors will. I don’t know when. It is not unreasonable that I will see my 35th birthday. It is significantly less likely I will see 40. There are lots of people—I know they are well-meaning—who say God didn’t will this. This is not his plan. I can’t accept this. This gets God off the hook for something I need Him to be a part of. It makes God absent, except in the most incidental way, from the most significant experience of my life. I want to argue with God, cry out to Him, and maybe eventually, accept what He is doing. We would not the infused virtue of faith if evil in the face of a good God could simply be explained away. I am a Thomist, through and through. But evil does not have a rational answer. It has an encounter. And in our confronting of evil, faith gives us the eyes to see Jesus, the hope to see God’s plan. This is a grace. This experience, as awful as it is, is God’s will. I think often of Joseph being sold into slavery. “You meant it for evil but I meant...

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Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Times

WIS 6:12-16 PS 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8 1 THES 4:13-18 MT 25:1-13 It is hard to read the Gospel words, “Stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour” without thinking of my own vigil as I prepare for Baby #4 to make his or her way into the world sometime this month. In fact, the midwife at my last appointment said as much. “It could be soon,” she said with a shrug, “or it could be weeks. Just be ready.” Our Gospel tells us to be ready for the second coming of Jesus through the parable...

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Challenging a Culture of Thinness

Wow! You look so skinny! Let’s be clear. I do not look skinny. I am in the third trimester of my fourth pregnancy (in five years, nonetheless). My body, which is healthy and strong, has shown the marks of pregnancy a little more markedly with each subsequent baby. I look pregnant. My friend was trying to tell me, I think, that I looked beautiful. But I bristled at how she chose to do this, by emphasizing my skinniness. In doing so, she was inadvertently buying into cultural assumptions that equate beauty with thinness. These are dangerous assumptions for women,...

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You Should Read This: This Is How It Always Is

I am a huge fan of reading fiction, not only for the pleasure factor, which is high for me, but also because of the way fiction has formed and continues to form my moral imagination. Through the encounter with characters and their stories, my heart is stretched and I feel I often walk away from a great book with a profound experiential knowledge—a connatural knowledge—of moral and theological truths, a knowledge that is emotional but something more significant than a mere feeling. I had this experience recently with Laurie Frankel’s This is How it Always Is. This is the...

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The Price of Mercy

Mark Singel, who served as lieutenant governor and, temporarily, acting governor of Pennsylvania from 1987 to 1995 has a deeply moving and deeply unsettling piece in America Magazine this month. He reflects on his recommendation to pardon Reginald McFadden, who was serving a life sentence for murder, and who then was re-arrested for rape of one woman and the murder of another. Singel writes I have had 25 years to reflect on my decision to recommend clemency for Reginald McFadden. Given the ease with which political opponents can twist compassion into weakness, providing second chances to known criminals is...

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