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.

Racism is the temptation white people have yet to overcome

From Where I Stand 06/3/2020 NCR

Thirty cities, they say. Thirty cities. Thirty cities burned from coast to coast. You can hear the tsk-tsking everywhere. You can see the heads shaking with disgust, with frustration, with deep disapproval — with despair. You can see the looks of confusion and horror, of dismay and doubt. Why would something like this happen? Why George Floyd? Why Derek Chauvin? Why here, of all places? Here in the "land of the free" and the "home of the brave"?

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Is it news or propaganda, and how do we know?

From Where I Stand 05/20/2020 NCR

There is a point at which all the heartrending political questions of the day collapse into one. The day the economic issues, the immigration issues, the border wall issues, the us-versus-them issues feel like more than we can take, and we find ourselves saying to one another, "How in the name of the Fourth of July did we get into this situation?" We're there. The collapse has come. The biggest question of them all must be answered.

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What are we looking for? Power or leadership?

From Where I Stand 05/6/2020 NCR

If anything galvanizes the gurus of serious thinking in the United States, it's the concept of leadership. Business schools live on it; publishers feed it wholesale to the country, book list after book list; online business and technology magazines use it as clickbait; historians analyze it; philosophers muse about its moral and ethical dimensions; social psychologists study it in group after group; and communication departments labor over the best ways to inculcate it.

Leadership, in the United States, is big business.

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Principles for a pandemic

From Where I Stand, 04/08/2020, NCR

"Rules are not necessarily sacred," Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, "principles are."

One thing is clear: "Rules" are not getting us out of the largest pandemic in modern history.

We're washing our hands and wearing our masks and staying indoors and counting the number of people in every group, but the numbers keep going up regardless.

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You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. Really? Democracies can die.

This is the sixth in a new series of columns by Benedictine Sr. Joan Chittister on essential contemporary virtues. Posted on NCR online on 1/15/20

"The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable" is a spin on John 8:32, popularized in the 1970s and often misattributed to James A. Garfield, the 20th president of the United States, who served only for 200 days before being assassinated.

It's a point worth taking seriously.

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Be you either hot or cold: Jesus' words, not mine: A call to action

This is the fifth in a new series of columns by Benedictine Sr. Joan Chittister on essential contemporary virtues. Posted on NCR online on 1/1/20

I know, I know: "All things in moderation." I grew up with that little piece of wisdom, too. Having said that, I also have to point to the confusion I felt when I read Jesus' response to it: "If you be neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth" (Revelations 3:16).

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Disavowal: Some promises should not be forever

This is the fourth in a new series of columns by Benedictine Sr. Joan Chittister on essential contemporary virtues. Posted on NCR online on 12/18/19

Most of our lives depend on our promises. Most of life is a vow to do something, to be a sign of fidelity and persistence wherever we strive. We understand that to be faithful to commitments is the currency of character. To carry on — always, relentlessly, quietly, steadfastly — we are given to understand at a very early age, is the gold standard of life.

That's the fantasy of the good life.

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It's time for our biases to grow: Decorum in differences must be reclaimed

This is the third in a new series of columns by Benedictine Sr. Joan Chittister on essential contemporary virtues. Posted on NCR online on 12/4/19

"We find comfort among those who agree with us, growth among those who don't."

That statement stopped me in mid-flight.

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I'd be skeptical if I were you

This is the second in a new series of columns by Benedictine Sr. Joan Chittister on essential contemporary virtues. Posted on NCR online on 11/20/19

George Will, veteran journalist and social analyst, intoned in his avuncular way, "The strongest continuous thread in America's political tradition is skepticism." While looking for virtues suitable to a country in political and social disarray, I couldn't help but be particularly happy at the thought of nominating skepticism as the electoral foundation of the future.

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Anger: A virtue for our time, because silence is not working

This is the first of a new series of columns by Benedictine Sr. Joan Chittister on essential contemporary virtues. Posted on NCR online on 10/23/19

"Generally speaking," the Dalai Lama said, "if a human being never shows anger, then I think something's wrong. He's not right in the brain."

I read that statement and started thinking all over again: The fact is, I'm disturbed because I'm looking for more anger than I'm hearing. The silence I'm hearing sounds like a death knell.

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12th NCR Article on Humility

Radical Spirit, 12 Ways to Live a Free and Radical Life by Joan Chittister

This is the 12th article on humility.

St. Benedict's 12th step is the challenge to become humility itself

"The twelfth step of humility is that we always manifest humility in our bearing no less than in our hearts, so that it is evident ... whether sitting walking or standing."

The 12th degree of humility goes directly to the core of the matter. It reads straight and clear, without equivocation, with certainty: "We always manifest humility in our bearing no less than in our hearts so that it is evident ..."

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Eleventh Article by Sister Joan

Radical Spirit, 12 Ways to Live a Free and Radical Life by Joan Chittister

This is the eleventh article in Sister Joan's NCR series on humility.

What we say, and how we say it, defines us.

It doesn't seem right to laugh at so wise and solemn a statement as the 11th step of humility. It says that we must "speak gently and without laugher, seriously and with becoming modesty, briefly and reasonably, but without raising our voices, as it is written: 'The wise are known by few words.' "

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New Series - Tenth Article by Sister Joan

Radical Spirit, 12 Ways to Live a Free and Radical Life by Joan Chittister

This is the tenth article in Sister Joan's NCR series on humility

When is funny not funny?

Ask my friends, they know: I tell stories all the time. I love a good joke. And I laugh a lot. All of which provides some serious problems for me in trying to deal with the 10th step of humility on laughter and humor. Let alone try to explain it to anyone else.

Worse, at this moment in U.S. history, trying to distinguish between what's funny and what's not is no small task.

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New Series - Ninth Article by Sister Joan

Radical Spirit, 12 Ways to Live a Free and Radical Life

This is the ninth article in Sister Joan's NCR series on humility.

St. Benedict counsels a little less talk, a little more thought

I could hear the news broadcast outside my door this morning as I sat down to talk to you about the Rule of Benedict's ninth step of humility. For the first time in my life, I not only understood the depth and beauty of it but I could also hear the social effects of ignoring it as one side harangued the other and neither side listened as well as talked.

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New Series - Eighth Article by Sister Joan

Radical Spirit, 12 Ways to Live a Free and Radical Life

This is the eighth article in Sister Joan's NCR series on humility.

St. Benedict's eighth step of humility: to grow, not to fossilize

Problem: Time is ruthless. It plods on with no regard whatsoever for our own pace of change. It plants tomorrow and uproots yesterday to such a degree that if we live in one city all our lives, we will die in the same city but never recognize it when we go. The old neighborhood market is long darkened. The major department store downtown is now a fast-food lunch counter and a string of strange offices.

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New Series - Seventh Article by Sister Joan

Radical Spirit, 12 Ways to Live a Free and Radical Life

This is the seventh article in Sister Joan's NCR series on humility.

Acceptance of inferiority and the freedom it brings

Think of it: Every single thing in the United States from the Democratic system to dishwashing fluids, all of them are presented as "the best," "the biggest," "the most effective," "the most powerful," "the fastest," "the strongest," "the incomparable," and, of course, "the greatest."

Oh, come now.

At Benedict's seventh step of humility, all sense of superiority is punctured.

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New Series -Sixth Article by Sister Joan

Radical Spirit, 12 Ways to Live a Free and Radical Life by Joan Chittister

This is the sixth article in Sister Joan's NCR series on humility.

It is possible to be contented even with disappointments

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New Series - Fifth Article by Sister Joan

Radical Spirit, 12 Ways to Live a Free and Radical Life

This is the fifth article in Sister Joan's NCR series on humility.

The self-revelation that makes us new again
St. Benedict's fifth rule opens us to direction as we grow.

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New Series - Fourth Article by Sister Joan

Radical Spirit, 12 Ways to Live a Free and Radical Life by Joan Chittister

This is the fourth article in Sister Joan's NCR series on humility.

Society profits from the power of patience
St. Benedict's fourth step says we can't rush life

Healthy and self-respecting Americans tolerate nothing that's slow. Not trains, not coffeemakers, not toasters, not online purchases, not education, and definitely not success.

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New Series - Third Article by Sister Joan

Radical Spirit, 12 Ways to Live a Free and Radical Life

This is the third article in Sister Joan's NCR series on humility.

Listen to those entrusted with our growth.
St. Benedict's third step, obedience, is for human unity and the common good.

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New Series - Second Article by Sister Joan

Radical Spirit, 12 Ways to Live a Free and Radical Life by Joan Chittister

This is the second article in Sister Joan's NCR series on humility

The 2nd step of humility, Know that God’s will is best, is explored by Joan Chittister in her ongoing series for the National Catholic Reporter.

Differences are a big thing in the United States. And always have been. We love to say that human beings are all equal, all alike, all welcome, all free to participate in the purpose and fulfillment of life. And that's true — but not totally true. In fact, we have never, all of us, been anything close to that.

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New Series - First Article by Sister Joan

Radical Spirit, 12 Ways to Live a Free and Radical Life

Here is the first of Joan's columns on Humility published by NRConline.

Fixing Everything: First, let God be God
Benedict of Norcia's first rule of humility

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Introduction to New Series

Radical Spirit, 12 Ways to Live a Free and Radical Life

“How about if we spend some time talking about humility?” writes Tom Roberts, executive editor of NCR in his introduction to a new series by Joan Chittister that will appear on alternating weeks over the next six months. Here is the complete introduction.

Let's Challenge Our Presumptions of Humility, Tradition

How about if we spend some time talking about humility?

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How to Save Western Civilization — Again

From Where I Stand 01/16/2019 NCR

Sinking ships are not difficult to identify. You can watch their long, slow, laborious decline as the stern begins to slip away and the bow, the head of the ship, becomes useless. You can see that it is no longer making any kind of real progress into the wind. You know that it has lost control of itself.

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Trump destabilizes the presidency and the nation's soul

From Where I Stand, 01.02.2019 NCR

There was a time when Christmas season damped out the noises of the mundane. Not now. Now there is a great deal more static in the United States than any number of celestial choirs can possibly hope to quell.

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COP24: It's Not About Resources Anymore; It's About Moral Maturity

COP 24

From Where I Stand 12/13/2018 NCR

I just came back from the U.N. Conference on Climate Change in Poland. It was a meeting we should all have been able to attend.

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For Real Change, We Must Get at Four Roots Deeper Than Church Structures

From Where I Stand 09/20/2018 NCR

In the midst of the angst that has accompanied the revelation of unparalleled amounts of sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church, the cry for reform gets louder by the day.

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For where you stand, stand up

From Where I Stand 09/05/2018 NCR

I haven't been writing much about the state of things in the United States these past months. From where I stand, there simply has been almost nothing really good to say. At least not about U.S. politics.

In politics there is little shining data to work with now: Nothing but more name calling of personal enemies for the 19th month in a row.

More bragging about nothing to brag about — like the dissolution of regulations designed to protect the planet of the future from the scars of advancing climate change.

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And a little child shall lead them

Young people are leading the way on guns.

Young people are leading the way against US gun violence.

From Where I Stand 3/19/2018 NCR

Between 1900 and 2018, there have been at least 146 protest marches and rallies, gatherings of people to express their social and political views, in Washington, D.C. It is a time-honored American way of making sure that the government "hears" the people, their passion and their political aspirations. The First Amendment allows this kind of speech, and the government protects it.

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Francis invites change, but we are the change

From Where I Stand, March 10, 2018, NCR
This article appeared in the Francis at Five Years feature series

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Let the Call Be Heard

Joan Chittister, OSB speaking at 4th World Congress of Benedictine Oblates

Presented by Joan Chittister to the Fourth World Congress of Benedictine Oblates, Rome, November 4—10, 2017.

The question of the day is a simple one but potentially life-changing one: the question is why would anyone even bother to get attached to a Benedictine monastery?

What is the purpose of doing something like that?

The truth is that both of us—both you and I, I as a vowed monastic, you, as committed oblates—are in the process of discovering again in new and vibrant ways what it means to hold a charism in trust for the church.

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Sr. Joan calls for formal censure of President Trump

From Where I Stand, 1/18/2018

Martin Luther King Jr. wrote once, "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." It's the congressional silence in the face of President Donald Trump's unpresidential, international insult of black countries that is bothering me right now.

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A Moment for Something More Soulful Than Politics

Oneing - Politics and Religion

Joan Chittister was one of the contributors to the fall 2017 issue of Oneing, a publication of the Center for Action and Contemplation. The theme of the issue is “Politics and Religion” and Sister Joan’s piece is titled, “A Moment for Something More Soulful than Politics.” Read it here.

A Moment for Something More Soulful Than Politics

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The God of Many Tongues

Joan Chittister:Essential Writings selected by Mary Lou Kownacki and Mary Hembrow Snyder

Each great spiritual tradition, in its own way, suggests a model of what it means to be a holy person. Each of them shines a light on the human ideal. Each of them talks about what it takes to grow, to endure, to develop, to live a spiritual life in a world calculatingly material and sometimes maddeningly unclear.

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A Time for Peace

The question is what is the way to the beginning of peace?

The philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote, “The unhappiness of a person resides in one thing, to be unable to remain peacefully in a room.” It is silence and solitude that bring us face to face with ourselves and the inner wars we must win if we are ever to become truly whole, truly at peace.

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Easter calls us to resurrection–our own

The old news about Easter is that it is about resurrection. The new news may be that it is not so much about the resurrection of Jesus as it is about our own. Unfortunately, we so often miss it. Jesus, you see, is already gone from one tomb.

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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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