Melissa Musick Nussbaum is a teacher and writer and speaker. She is the author of seven books and a contributor to many more. She has written articles for publications from Notre Dame Magazine to First Things. She is a regular columnist for NCR and its sister publication, Celebration. She and her daughter, Anna Keating, are the authors of The Catholic Catalogue: A Field Guide to the Daily Acts That Make Up a Catholic Life. She and her husband have five children and eleven grandchildren. Melissa is working on a memoir about her family and hometown, Tulia, Texas. She makes a mean chocolate chip cookie and what her grandson, Leo, swears is the world's best chocolate cake.

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Bishops, be like parents -- try to be better than you actually are

My Table Is Spread: I've been thinking about shepherds these last weeks and about parents and about how alike the roles are. Both shepherds and parents have one task: to take care of their flocks. That's it. That's the whole thing. Feed my sheep.


My task is to point my grandson ever on to the Good Shepherd

My Table Is Spread: As clouds gather over those shepherds in the church who have led their flocks into the deserts of abuse, we set a newly baptized child on a path to follow Jesus.


Robins' nest-building reminds me of parents at border

My Table Is Spread: My husband and I began to notice the rising pile of debris on the wooden bench just behind our garage. The bench was a construction site: Robins were building a nest.


To understand our images of the afterlife, look to the weather

Our notions of hell and heaven have traditionally been reflections of the landscape in which our forbearers dwelt and the climate they endured. What will my grandchildren's visions of ruin and paradise be?


Being a stand-in for God