Form your conscience in advance of the November election, with help from Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde.
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How to pray like a saint

Pope Francis explains how to pray like a saint in this video from Catholic News Service.


Art and Architecture outtakes

For the recent series on art and architecture, I traveled around the diocese to find ways to illustrate different aspects of church design and decor. On my way, I discovered many notable pieces of art that didn’t quite fit the theme of the article I was working on.

For example, while researching the baldacchino at St. James, I noticed the wonderful use of Christian symbols on the liturgical furnishings, shown through small gold and brightly colored mosaics on marble. The baptismal font has classic and recognizable symbols such as a fish and an anchor. The altar has a pelican with outstretched wings dripping blood into the mouths of her babies.

While less well-known today, “The symbolism of the mother pelican feeding her little baby pelicans is rooted in an ancient legend, which preceded Christianity,” Father William P. Saunders, pastor of Our Lady of Hope Church in Potomac Falls, said in a previously published column for the Arlington Catholic Herald.

“The legend was that in time of famine, the mother pelican wounded herself, striking her breast with the beak to feed her young with her blood to prevent starvation,” he said. The symbol was quickly adopted by Christians, who equated the pelican with Christ.

Other pieces were memorable to me for their great beauty. Tucked away in the back of St. Veronica Church in Chantilly is a small adoration chapel. Above the altar is an ornate triptych of the crucifixion.

St. Raymond of Peñafort Church in Springfield has an exceptional baptismal font. On the lid, a small sculpture portrays John baptizing his cousin, Jesus.


A font of type knowledge

For most people, type is as invisible as air, a mere combination of lines, curves and dots that present the story clearly and legibly — all the mark of a good typeface. But for those of us who decided to sip from the font of typeface knowledge, the world will never be the same. Now we can’t help but study type and can ask — what is that typeface?

Being the Catholic Herald’s multimedia designer and having just completed a summer typography class at George Mason University in Fairfax, it was inevitable that the Catholic Herald’s typography choices would peek my curiosity. During the class, we were assigned a typographer to research, I was given Robert Slimbach from Adobe. Of the four typefaces that the Catholic Herald uses, Slimbach designed two of them — Utopia and Arno. The other two are Whitney and Poynter.

These typeface families are known for their readability and some are veterans in the journalism world. Used since the paper’s redesign in 2008, they all work together to give the paper its clean elegant style. Here are the typefaces in order of appearance.


The Catholic Herald utilizes this typeface family in both its regular and condensed forms for refers, captions, drop heads and other small type. The sans-serif Whitney family was designed by Tobaias Frere-Jones for the Whitney Museum in New York. It bridges the gap between the needs of editorial design and signage.

“Its compact forms and broad x-height use space efficiently, and its ample counters and open shapes make it clear under any circumstances,” according to

Poynter OS Display Semibold

The Catholic Herald uses Poynter Old-Style Display Semibold for its nameplate. The classical old-style roman typeface was designed by Tobias Frere-Jones and David Berlow for the Poynter Institute with the needs of journalism in mind. In the early 2000s, Poynter saw that many papers were falling back on Times New Roman, Century or Garamond to present their …   More

The power of the unborn

Perhaps we’re never as vulnerable as during those first few weeks of life in utero. An unborn child is tiny, maybe so small and unobtrusive that its mother doesn't even know the child is there, quietly growing. The new life is fragile, both naturally and as a result of laws that fail to protect him or her.

Yet the unborn child has power, because we intuitively know it is a human — a strange-looking embryo that will become a bouncing baby, then a child, then an adult. Even those in our culture who praise the right to “choose” know on an emotional level that when a pregnancy ends, a life ends.

In the debate over abortion, we hear a lot of rhetoric. But every campaigner and crusader knows that people remember stories much more readily than facts. Art and music stays with them just as long.

In honor of Respect Life Month, below are three songs by mainstream artists that speak to the power of the unborn. Though they have no voice, the truth of the unborn baby’s humanity, potential and vibrancy echoes in the heart of each song’s protagonist. It’s a reminder that in the midst of all the arguments, truth can be felt.

1) Small Bump by Ed Sheeran

“Small Bump” is the love song of a father to his unborn child. The song speaks to the child’s budding future but also his or her impact right now. Sheeran poetically humanizes the physical features of the still-hidden child, singing, “You're just a small bump unknown and you'll grow into your skin/ With a smile like hers and a dimple beneath your chin/ Oh, fingernails the size of a half-grain of rice/And eyelids closed to be soon opened wide.”

The chorus expresses the deep love the parent has already poured into his child. He sings, “You are my one, and only/ You can wrap your fingers round my thumb and hold me tight.” The closing lines reveal that the baby miscarried. Yet far from being insignificant, the child’s brief life still holds great value.

“You were just a small …   More

Video: Grace in 30 radio show


Throwback: Pope Francis in the U.S.

One year ago today, Pope Francis arrived at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland as part of a six-day visit to the United States.

For #ThrowbackThursday, we're revisiting some of the highlights of his trip. What do you remember most vividly, one year later?

Check out the links below to see photos from papal events.

Pope Francis arrives at Joint Base Andrews

Pope Francis at the White House

Pope Francis' papal parade in Washington

Pope Francis at St. Matthew's Cathedral

Canonization Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine

of the Immaculate Conception

Address to Congress

Catholic Charities and St. Patrick's Church

Departure from Washington to New York

Philadelphia & World Meeting of Families


Know the positions of the presidential candidates

The Virginia Catholic Conference has put together a voter guide that depicts the positions of the two presidential candidates (Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump) on 12 key issues, including abortion, the death penalty and immigration.

The VCC is is the public policy advocacy organization representing Virginia's two Catholic bishops, Francis DiLorenzo of Richmond and Paul Loverde of Arlington, and their dioceses in matters before the Virginia General Assembly, the U.S. Congress, and the state and federal administrations and their agencies.

The guide was published in the Sept. 15 edition of the Catholic Herald. The English and Spanish versions of the guide can be found at   More

Election 2016: Forming your conscience

Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde will publish a six-part series on conscience formation for Catholics prior to the November presidential election.

Part 1: Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship

Part 2: The Right to Life

Part 3: Marriage and Sexuality

Part 4: Human Life and Dignity

Part 5:Character

En Español

Primera parte — Comienzo en espíritu de oración

Segunda parte — Principios fundamentales: El derecho a la vida

Tercera parte — El matrimonio y la sexualidad: testimonio de la verdad

Cuarta parte – La vida humana y la dignidad: Otras cuestiones por considerar

Quinta parte – Quinta parte – El carácter: un asunto complejo

Columns will be added to this page as they are published.   More

Great Falls pastor remembers Barbara Olson

The following homily was delivered Sept. 15, 2001 by Fr. Franklyn McAfee, pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Great Falls, at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington during the memorial Mass for author and commentator Barbara Olson, who was on board American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon Sept. 11.

I walked a mile with gladness

She chattered all the way

But left me none the wiser

For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with sorrow

And ne’er a word said she

But oh, the things I learned from her

When sorrow walked with me.

It is most appropriate that we gather for this memorial Mass for Barbara Olson in this cathedral, dedicated to St. Thomas More, a lawyer and a government official. He reminds us that the legal profession, and work in government, are noble professions.

It is also appropriate that we assemble to offer this Mass for Barbara and her family on the day which in the Catholic liturgical calendar is set aside to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of Lady of Sorrows.

In the final moments of that awful drama, we all know that Barbara called her husband, Ted, on her phone, to inform him of what was going on, to ask for his advice, and tell him of her love. We heard them talk about this last night, on CNN and on Fox.

In imminent danger, at the very door of death, she turns to her husband, whom she trusts. Many poems can be written about love, but this surpasses them all. We can only imagine what went through Ted’s mind as his wife talked with him, especially since he was aware of the attacks in New York.

Ted might tell us what he thought, and he did so on the TV interviews, but there is no way he could convey to us what he felt, and what anguish and anxiety was piercing his heart. His wife was about to die, and there was absolutely nothing he could do. He was absolutely powerless. He was Solicitor General of the United States, and he could do nothing for the woman he …   More

Photo files and story leads

We’ve been looking through old files of Mother Teresa photos from her visit to the Arlington Diocese and to Washington way back in 1981 and 1982. Last week, I kept seeing photos of the same couple with two small children, who looked like they might be from India.

Photo after photo, I saw them in a crowd surrounding Mother Teresa, sitting just the four of them and finally, the money shot — Mother Teresa leaning down to speak with one of the girls.

After a hunt in our bound volumes of back issues, we found one of the photos with a caption and their names.

After a check with their parish, we had contact info. I put Zoey DiMauro, staff writer, on the case and within an hour she was on the phone with Ellen Alterman getting the story and the profound connection to the soon-to-be-saint.

Read the story

Seeing Mother Teresa’s small hand cradling the chin of a tiny girl illustrates her great love for children.

In 1982, on her first visit to a war zone, she reportedly met with Red Cross officials in East Beirut. A nearby mental hospital had been bombed, and 37 mentally and physically handicapped children had to be evacuated.

“I’ll take them,” she said.

This weekend, as another modern-day saint is added to the list of the church’s holy men and women, consider how her example might affect the choices we make as we try to find our own Calcutta.

Augherton can be reached at or on Twitter @aughertonACH.


Buy photos from Mother Teresa's 1981 and 1982 visits to Arlington and Washington; or print them on keepsake coffee mugs, magnets and more.   More

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