Articles

Joan Chittister has contributed dozens of chapters and introductions to books and over 700 articles and interviews to magazines, journals and online media including Huffington Post, The Tablet, America, Sojourners and The National Catholic Reporter where she is an online columnist. A selection of her writings and interviews are listed and linked here.

Joan of Arc: A Voice of Conscience

It seems at first glance to be hardly the stuff of which contemporary sanctity is made. The story of Joan of Arc as we have known it is an almost mythical one, a fantasy of divine proportions. She was a peasant, a simple girl from the unsophisticated countryside, who took it upon herself to save the country when its leaders could not.

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Dorothy Day

During his speech to Congress on September 24, 2015, Pope Francis singled out four great Americans: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thomas Merton, and Dorothy Day. The woman in the group is the least known and celebrated. In 1996, Joan Chittister included an essay about Dorothy Day in her book, A Passion for Life: Fragments of the Face of God, which was also published in the Spring 2016 issue of Parabola magazine. Read what Sister Joan has to say about her.

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Prayer ought to disturb the peace

The following is an excerpt from an interview with Joan Chittister that appeared in the March,1989 issue of SALT, a magazine for justice-hungry Christians. The contents of this interview are still relevant for today's readers.

Q. You do a lot of traveling and writing about peacemaking. You’ve probably had many ups and downs along the way. What keeps you going?

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The United States is having an identity crisis

The influential Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky is said to have commented, "To live without hope is to cease to live." Perhaps Americans have never understood that feeling better than we can now. We are also facing grave national choices in a whirlpool of public and political turmoil. The way ahead is uncertain and the voices of leadership are tangled. It is time to consider what role we play as Americans when hope is at a premium for many and our own very definition of self is stake.

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Metanoia: Call to Conversion

Suddenly, perhaps, or painfully slowly, I begin to see into myself. The gulf opens up between what I am and what I must be if divine life is ever to come to fullness in me. There is no more concealing it from myself, no more ignoring it. There is nowhere to go now but into the heart of God with arms up and hands open. Then, we open ourselves to the work of divinity in us, to the One who binds all brokenness together, to the Life that simmers in our deadest, driest parts.

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Divine Mercy: The Audacity of Mercy

To be without mercy is to be yet without an honest awareness of our own humanity.”

Thomas Ann Hines, a divorced mother of an only child, learned mercy the hard way. When her son, a freshman at college, lay murdered by a seventeen year-old drifter who first solicited a ride from him and then, when he got in the car, turned a gun on the young driver, Thomas Ann descended into a pit of anger and vengeance.

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My Neighbor's Faith

My first struggle with Scripture came early. The Sister who taught second grade made it a practice to read bible stories to us as part of our daily recess period. I went to school every day barely able to wait for the moment to come. I love the telling of them. I loved the surprises in every single one of them. But one day one of them threatened my faith in ways no child can plumb.

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Anthony DeMello

Anthony DeMello, the Jesuit spiritual teacher and psychotherapist, died suddenly of a heart attack on June 2nd in 1987 at the age of 56. In memory of his life, printed below is a piece Sister Joan wrote about him for an article entitled "The Spiritual Art of Three Modern Masters" that appeared in the U.S.Catholic magazine in June, 1994. The other two masters were Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton.

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A Favorite Prayer

Sr. Joan Chittister was one of nearly a hundred prominent men and women from every religious tradition and region of the world to share a favorite prayer and offer their own reflections on its meaning in the book, A World of Prayer: Spiritual Leaders, Activists, and Humanitarians Share their Favorite Prayers, edited by Rosalind Bradley, Orbis Books 2012.

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Oh, Wonder of Wonders

The Sufi tell stories that say all I think I'll ever know about finding God.

The first story is a disarming and compelling one. It is also, I think, a troublesome one, a fascinating one, a chastening one: “Help us to find God,” the seeker begged the Elder. “No one can help you there,” the Elder answered. “But why not?” the seeker insisted. “For the same reason that no one can help a fish to find the ocean.” The answer is clear: There is no one who can help us find what we already have.

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CREDO: Personal Testimony of Faith

This is a crossover point in time, very similar to that Galileo moment in history when he changed our conception of the world. Galileo was condemned because his science was in contradiction to the established theology. Science up to that time affirmed what they thought they knew, but it now contradicted what they were sure they knew. We are right back at that moment in time again, only now we call it evolution.

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Monasticism: An Ancient Answer to a Modern Problem

We have, as a people, tried every new trick we know to balance our desire for "the good life" with its effects. We've increased our technology, multiplied our laws and expanded our educational efforts, but nothing seems to be working. Maybe it's time to try anew what worked well enough to save a civilization centuries before us so that it might save us again.

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What Does It Mean To Be Human

To ask what it means to be human strikes at the fabric of the soul. The temptation, of course, is to gloss, to idealize. The task, however, requires much more than that. The task is not to rhapsodize; it is to distinguish between the human and the nonhuman, the subhuman that rages under it, taxing our humanity at every turn. Then, the task becomes plain. In Thomas Hardy's words, "If way to the better there be, we must look first at the worst."

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The Burden of Nonviolence

A Jewish tale relates that a young woman once said to an old woman, “Old women, what is life’s heaviest burden?” And, we are told, the old woman replied: “Life’s heaviest burden is to have no burden to carry at all.”

Ah, yes, the message is clear: The smallest of us is each responsible for something bigger than ourselves. To do less is to be less than we should be. The problem is that it is often so difficult to know exactly what the big thing really is. Martha, of Bethany got her responsibilities wrong for a while, we know. Judas couldn’t get them straightened out at all. The fishing disciples were sure, at first, that fishing was far more important than following Jesus. We need not, in other words, smugly conclude that we in our time will know our responsibilities when we see them.

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'Brotherly' Love in Today's Church

'Brotherly' Love in Today's Church

The Roman Catholic Church has a language problem. Unless the present language pattern of the church changes, women cannot ever possibly become equal in it, or be identified as the true face of the church, let alone become ordained to anything but an institutionalized recognition of their second-class status in the system. It is my contention that the use of sexist language in the church contributes to the continuance of a negative attitude toward women; affects the psychological development of women themselves; divides the church; limits its resources and perpetuates injustice.

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Call to Leadership

Stanford University

If a special person in your life is graduating this month, you might want to send them Joan Chittister’s stirring words to the Stanford graduating class of 2012.

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Seek Peace and Pursue It

Thirty-two years ago this week, May 3, 1983, the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops adopted the historic pastoral letter: “The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response.”

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An Insanity of Rationality

An Insanity of Rationality by Joan Chittister

There is a madness abroad in the land, hiding behind the Constitution, brazenly ignoring the suffering of many who, over the years, have died in its defense, and operating under the banner of rationality. It’s a rare form of spiritual disease that thrives on violence and calls it good.

What We Have To Be Is What We Are: Merton’s Unfinished Agenda

We Are Already One: Thomas Merton’s Message of Hope

To celebrate Thomas Merton’s 100th birthday, one hundred international figures, including Joan Chittister, contributed reflections to We Are Already One: Thomas Merton’s Message of Hope (Fons Vitae). In her article Joan Chittister delves into Thomas Merton’s insistence that spiritual development only occurs when we have wrestled in our depths to determine who we really are—“without the masks, without the labels.”

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Embracing life’s second act: getting older with grace

Embracing life’s second act: getting older with grace

“Aging well is the real goal of life,” explains Joan Chittister in this far-reaching interview with the editors of U.S. Catholic Magazine.

The God Who Beckons

The God Who Beckons

What happens when classical spirituality meets modern science? Which of them is “right”? Are the two reconcilable? Or are they doomed to be eternal opposites?

Seeds of a New Humanity

The Winter 2014-15 issue of Parabola Magazine featured an article by Joan Chittister on the seeds of a new humanity. “In every seed lie the components of all life the world has known from all time to now,” write Sister Joan.

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Faith and Justice: 14 Questions for Joan Chittister

“What’s your biggest social justice concern at this moment?” is on of 14 questions that Joan Chittister was asked by Jesuit Sean Salai in and interview for America Magazine.

Hildegard of Bingen: 12th Century Feminist

Hildegard of Bingen

Why did it take over 800 years for the church to canonize and then name Hildegard of Bingen a Doctor of the Church? Joan Chittister explores questions like this and comments on Hildegard of Bingen’s legacy in an interview with Alicia Von Stamwitz in St. Anthony Messenger.

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