Ellen Wilson Fielding

Ellen Wilson Fielding is a writer and former contributing editor to Crisis Magazine.

recent articles

Common Wisdom: On a Cold Winter’s Night

St. Agnes Eve — Ah, bitter chill it was! The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold; The hare limp’d trembling through the frozen grass, And silent were the flock in woolly fold: Numb were the Beadsman’s fingers, while he told His rosary, and while his frosted breath, Like pious incense from a censer old, … Read more

Common Wisdom: The Just Man

For many men today, fatherhood is a tenuous, provisional state—something that can be annihilated by a woman’s decision to abort her child, or compartmentalized by a marital breakup. Even a man who voluntarily seeks in divorce an illusory freedom or a second chance may wince at the price such “happiness” exacts, both in the pain … Read more

Common Wisdom: The Great American Church Series

The conservative monthly the American Spectator runs something called the Great American Saloon Series—affectionate profiles of atmospheric bars here and abroad. I have often thought that one could do such a series on some of the thousands of distinctive Catholic churches in the United States and the rest of the world. I meant not so … Read more

Common Wisdom: Won’t You Be My Valentine?

The other day, searching around on my shelves for a book old enough to seem new to me, I opened one and met a letter from a long-ago boyfriend marking the page. Moving down the shelf, I lifted another book and found a letter from another long- ago boyfriend serving the same purpose. Romantic missives … Read more

Common Wisdom: What Does Father Know Best?

Last winter a local newspaper carried the standard wedding supplement. Besides the usual mix of fashions, travel tips, and etiquette, there was an advice column on updating the wedding ceremony to adapt to modern times. Modern brides, said the author, should refuse to submit to being “given away” by their fathers, since this custom derives … Read more

Common Wisdom: Where Do Babies Come From?

When is Dynamitey going to come out?” asks three-year-old Maria, as she does, oh, once or twice a week. “We don’t know, she’s still an egg,” says five-year-old Peter, with a big brother’s scorn for youthful ignorance. Dynamitey is our yet-to-be-born (and yet to be conceived, as Peter was reminding his sister) fourth child. The … Read more

Common Wisdom: God’s Bright Messengers

I belong to that group of Catholics whose religious upbringing straddled both sides of the Second Vatican Council. In my first four years of parochial school I memorized catechism answers to questions like, “Why did God make us?” and “What is a sacrament?” In my second four years I pondered opaque quotations from Vatican II … Read more

Common Wisdom: Home Thoughts from Abroad

We have been househunting, and we have been much occupied by all the balancing of pros and cons and competing desires that choosing a house usually provokes. Condition, space, room size, lot size, neighborhood, nearness to work and to school—considerations such as these have been bouncing in and out of our heads as we search … Read more

Common Wisdom: Children, Saints, and Our Lady

When I was a child I read tremendous numbers of books about the saints. Children respond less ambiguously to tales of the heroic than adults do, and I think one reason is that adults realize how uncomfortably far they are from heroic heights, and how unlikely they are to attain them. Children are exhilarated and … Read more

Common Wisdom: Things Seen and Unseen

We went home to my parents’ house for Christmas. Most of the Christmases since the birth of our children have been spent with the grandparents, and they are so good at “doing” Christmas — at trimming immense, symmetrical trees, covering kitchen walls with Christmas cards and mantels and radiator covers with artificial snow, at piling … Read more

Common Wisdom: Modern Catholics and the Wimp Factor

In two solid weeks of Olympic television watching, in interview after interview of boxing and track-and-field stars, I have heard the name of God spoken (reverently!) more than I could have in a year’s worth of prime time. The simplicity and unself-consciousness with which people like Florence Griffith Joyner gave credit where credit was due … Read more

Common Wisdom: Ropes and Swords and Guns

It was the third in a lengthening chain of cold lousy winter days, and my three-year-old was bouncing off the walls with frustrated energy. So I packed him and his one-year-old sister into the car and headed for the local mall. Not to shop — even when cabin fever hasn’t turned my son into a … Read more

Common Wisdom: All Creatures Great and Small

Last week our dog died, the second one to die this year. Peter, my almost-three-year-old, doesn’t understand very well what is going on, though he is certainly picking up the mechanics of burying dead things now. But he keeps anticipating an early resurrection, while I am uncertain of even a belated resurrection for our Jenny … Read more

The Great Yuppie Debate: I — Producing and Consuming at White Heat

Back in the Sixties, when the first wave of Baby Boomers was rioting and draft-card burning and drug taking, articles were written tracing their behavior to the indulgence of their parents. Post-war mothers and fathers, many of them more permissive than their own parents, and with money enough to put their permissive principles into practice, … Read more

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