Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sense of An Ending . . . and a beginning

I read something yesterday in Fr. James Martin’s Jesus: A Pilgrimage. It made me think of conversion and Lent and even a little something from my days as a graduate student at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.

“The ancient Greeks had two words for time: chronos, the tick-tock chronological time that we are more familiar with; and kairos, the right or opportune moment. We also know what these kairos moments are like: tired and dissatisfied with our lives, we’re waiting for someone to say that it is okay to change. For the fishermen on the shore, this was their kairos moment” (Martin 140).

All the talk of chronos and kairos reminded me of The Sense of an Ending - required reading for M.A. comps. Not that I wrote anything profound that awful, awful day. I received a B on my comprehensive exams though I had trended toward A’s throughout graduate school. I choose to blame my performance on the migraine that rendered the experience a nightmarish blur. No hyperbole. I began the day with a shot of Imitrex which worked no better than a couple of Tic Tacs.

I remember three writers from the long list of required reading. Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot. The Writing Life and Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard. And Frank Kermode’s The Sense of an Ending.

I might have known that I was headed for a massive conversion –for I forgot most of the other things I read in the months of preparation for comps, but the things that remained and took up residency in my long term memory were Annie Dillard, T.S.  Eliot and Frank Kermode. If you took Pilgrim, Writing Life, Four Quartets and Sense of an Ending and ground them up with a mortar and pestle, you might end up with words like Catholic and mystery and contemplative and writer.

It is where I was headed – though I, myself, had no idea.

But there is something about the notion of kairos. A time for each thing. A season. A changing over and rendering up. Dropping nets to follow. Or abandoning the now for the unexpected call. The sense of an ending. And of a beginning.

When you talk about such things, others stare. They don’t get it. Aren’t privy to the crook of God’s finger. The hook of the Shepherd’s staff. My walking papers. My mandate to go. To follow. To pick up a pen. Or a cross. Or both.

There is something beautiful-and painful-in accepting the call one receives in these kairos moments.

You try to get others to understand, but there is no way they truly can– not being in your skin.
Not having walked in your moccasins.

The most one can hope for is for one’s spiritual director to affirm the call.
It’s enough. A nod from him and a nod from grace– that’ll do.

Kairos. The changing time.

A blank page.

It’s not that anything is possible. It is only that His Will awaits. And somehow, you know it. You begin to perceive it.

The words on the blank page are written in invisible ink – the kind of ink that fills God’s pen. And your spirit is the secret decoder that unlocks the hidden script. You see the words.

And you get to say–

Ok. Let’s do it.

So be it. Amen.

You drop your nets and walk away from what was to embrace what is to come.

It is the moment you are ready for God’s plan for you.

Kairos.
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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Novena For Pope Francis' Trip to the Holy Land

Please join us in praying for the Holy Father's trip to the Holy Land. Recent headlines indicate that Israel may be cut from the Holy Father's itinerary, due to a strike by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs that began this week. Join us in praying for a speedy resolution so that our Holy Father can join us in Israel this May. See article:

Israel may be cut out of Pope Francis’ visit to the Holy Land 

You can find the Novena to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots here.

The novena begins March 30th.
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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Invisalign Braces and Free Will


I am one hour in to my first set of invisalign braces.

I now have many more things to offer up this Lent. No coffee – except with meals when the braces come off. No soda either. Nothing with color – unless I want a red, or brown, or orange smile. No eating with the braces on either.

Water. I can drink water. And I can eat and drink whatever I want – but only at meal time when the braces come off.

As they said in the orthodontist office: This is a good time to start a diet. So there is a bright side.
 

They say the good thing about invisalign is that you can take them out. They say the bad thing about invisalign is that you can take them out.

Still, I think invisalign is a good choice for me. Perhaps you should ask me later – after my teeth start hurting – because they say they will hurt. They say I will want to take them out. But they said I should not give in to that desire.

It’s kind of like the freedom God gives us. The good thing about this faith is that God has given us the choice to love him or to walk away. The good thing about God's gift of grace is it depends on our free will to receive it and to walk in it. The bad thing about God's gift of grace is that it depends on our free will to abandon it and to let it fade away completely.

There will be times we will feel like throwing off the mantle of holiness. But we should not give in to that desire.

Like the invisalign braces, my faith may not be obvious at first glance. This pursuit of holiness is usually a quiet, hidden process.

But those who are closest to us know it’s happening. They are aware of the changes, and eventually others will notice as well.

So we submit to the pain required in spiritual change. We do not throw off the mantle when it becomes a little difficult.

And when we need some assistance, we know where to go. The Eucharist. The waters of Baptism. The confessional.

We turn to Christ.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Catholic or catholic?


Dad was my first confirmation teacher. He taught the Presbyterian confirmation class that I attended when I was in middle school. Years later, when I became Catholic, I was Confirmed again – as a Catholic.

But when I was in that Presbyterian confirmation class, Dad made the students learn the Apostles’ Creed. When I hit the line, I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church, my hand went up.
 

“Why is the word ‘Catholic’ in there when we aren’t Catholic?" I asked.

My dad’s explanation? The word catholic means universal. And we, as Presbyterians – or Wesleyans or Assembly of God or Nazarenes or Methodists - were part of that church. Small “c” you see.
 

I nodded. It made a little sense. But there was still something unnerving about it. It seemed to point to something I had never considered. We all traced our roots back to catholic – whether you were part of the big “C” church or little “c”  church – whether you were part of the Church or just a bunch of churches that kind-of-sort-of belonged together in a we-don’t-really-agree-on-things-but-we-all-love-Jesus type of way.

While the Catholic Church defines catholic as universal, she has a fuller command of the definition. As Greg Willits writes in his book The New Evangelization and You, “the word universal, when applied to Catholicism, has a deeper meaning. Universal in terms of Catholicism means ‘according to the totality’ or ‘in keeping with the whole’” (69). In this excerpt, Willits cites the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Willits goes on to say, “In other words, the Church affects everything totally and completely. Imagine an area of our world, of your very existence, that isn’t somehow affected by the Catholic Church.”

He’s right. Even as a Protestant preacher’s daughter, I brushed up against the Catholic Church quite a few times. If you read my column, you know what I mean. Almost every column has an “I remember when” moment from my non-Catholic days. And each of those moments points toward the Catholic Church – with a big “C”.

Education. Recreation. Procreation. Cantatas. Current event. Fine arts class at a Free Methodist college. Literature class at a Presbyterian college. Friends. Eventually, politics and employment.

As Greg Willits says, “. . . it’s borderline impossible not to be affected in some way by the Catholic Church.”

It is, however, completely possible to belong to any other denomination and not brush up against another denomination. You can go your whole life as a Presbyterian and not be exposed to the Pentecostals, the Nazarenes, the New Springs of Life in Christ Non-denominational church. You get the idea.

But the Catholic Church is everywhere. And the Mass is everywhere. And the Church touches everything.

No matter where you go on the planet, you will be close to a Catholic parish. When you walk through those doors, you will encounter the same Mass – in a variety of languages with people from every race on planet Earth. When you leave the building, you will continue to encounter that Church again and again and again.

Only one church can lay claim to being truly universal – complete – touching everything and everyone. The Catholic Church.

 

 

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Bossert To Travel to the Holy Land

I will be traveling to the Holy Land from May 18-28th with the Catholic Press Association as a guest of Israel's Ministry of Tourism. It is an amazing opportunity and the timing couldn't be better as my book on Judea will be released by Ave Maria Press later this year. The trip also coincides with the Holy Father's visit to Israel. I look forward to sharing this journey with readers on the blog, through my column in diocesan newspapers, and in the pages of my book. My heart is filled with joy and gratitude.



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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Check out Boomer Esiason Story

Link to the story: http://denisebossert.com/2014/01/30/the-boomer-esiason-story/




Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Link: http://www.cff.org/
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Friday, January 24, 2014

Two Reminders

Be sure to check out Denise's new website. http://denisebossert.com/

If you are on Facebook, you will want to stop by Denise's Facebook Page for the latest updates on her writing and speaking engagements. https://www.facebook.com/denise.bossert





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January 2014 Catholic by Grace Column


This article ran in diocesan newspapers in the U.S. and in the Catholic Press Association paper The Catholic Journalist.
One morning last spring, I caught my older daughter flipping through a diocesan newspaper while eating breakfast. I had to smile. On that particularly morning, she wasn’t officially Catholic. She entered the Church later that day at the 2:30 Mass at the Cathedral Basilica in St. Louis, Missouri. It was Pentecost Sunday and soon, my second child would be entering the faith I had chosen less than a decade earlier.
“Did you read the diocesan newspapers when you lived here? Or is this a new thing for you?” I asked her.
She looked up from the paper and smiled. “When there was no catalog or magazine on the table, I would read it. It was something to do.” She laughed and closed the paper.
Those were rough years. She had moved into our house with her little boys and was trying to juggle them and full-time employment. She was also trying hard to avoid God.
But on this particular Sunday, the fight against God ended. On that day, she was received into Mother Church.
My husband also used to scan diocesan newspapers and magazines before he converted. He's the kind of guy that goes through withdrawal when he doesn't have a book to read. In the years after my conversion (before his own conversion), he would read the Catholic papers that were on the table – the random complimentary copies I received as a columnist. This is the same man who promised he would never become Catholic. He was born Southern Baptist, and he would die Southern Baptist.
He’s been Catholic since 2008.
I don't know if there is a cause and effect relationship between conversions and subscriptions to diocesan periodicals, but at the very least, there is some correlation. I believe families that have subscriptions to diocesan papers are the very families most likely to experience conversion and ongoing conversion – even among families in which some members actively resist God. There are times that the diocesan newspaper on the kitchen table is the only remaining voice for Mother Church in the lives of those who stubbornly resist grace.
I am blessed to write for diocesan papers and magazines, but I am even more blessed to have those periodicals in my home and on my kitchen table. There was a time when my husband told me to stop talking about my new-found faith – but he would still read the diocesan newspaper. My daughter tuned me out for years. But last spring, she entered the Church.
Diocesan papers are tools of evangelization. Sometimes, they are the only evangelization tool left in a household.
If you are reading this, you understand how important this magazine or newspaper is. You know that it assists you in your journey – and you know that it assists those who live under your roof and sit at your kitchen table.
In a world that is filled with many voices and so many words, it is a blessing to have faithful media coming into our homes, sharing words that matter – words that bring life.

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Friday, January 10, 2014

Leaving Bethlehem

I'm not ready.

I'd rather stay here, in this house.

The company left yesterday. It's time to begin taking down Christmas and getting on with Ordinary Time. But I am dragging my feet. I enjoyed it, and now I'm clinging to it. I'd like to keep it a few more days - maybe forever. Not the flu I caught over Christmas despite the flu shot in October. But the rest.

The baking, the hostessing, the linen changing for guests, the grandchildren -- yes, those little faces!

I enjoyed my daughter's break from school - and those four extra snow days which kept her home until today.

But the season is ending. And there are things I have abandoned. Things I'm avoiding.

I'd like to stay inside. To keep the resting & lounging going. Hide here a bit longer, like the agorophobe I could so easily become. The reclusive writer - without the dedicated writing routine.

I want to freelance life. Keep what's easy.

Even grocery runs seem too much. And dog grooming. And that dental appointment I should schedule.

Lord, help me to leave the comfort of this house, to travel to Egypt with the Holy Family - though I'd like to stay in Bethlehem & wait to see who else might drop in.

Let the world come to me.

But that isn't how it works.

Ordinary days are going out days. Routines that fill up. Errands to be run. More people. More places. More work.

So give me that dreamy mandate to go, like you once did to St. Joseph.

Because what seems safe - it's not good for me. Egypt awaits.

Bethlehem on another day.
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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Lord of the Nations

Last night, before the snow began falling, my husband and I went to a Twelfth Night Christmas party. The night was something from a dream. We revisited a home we had not seen in seventeen years and talked with professors we knew in graduate school. And I had the thought before the party began, before we even left our home – what if we stepped across the threshold and suddenly were transformed into the people who met and married seventeen years ago – like some kind of plot in a Nathaniel Hawthorne short story. What would happen if people who knew each other a lifetime ago suddenly changed and re-entered the prime of life?

Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment all over again.

John and I don’t socialize very much. We’ve had company for two weeks, but they were all family members. Our idea of socializing is going out to eat with our parish priest (which we enjoy immensely). So last night was the kind of night that will stick with me; it’ll come up again in a dream. My subconscious mind will gnaw on this experience months from now.

My husband and I stepped into old patterns. We were the same two people last night that we were seventeen years ago – like the time travel-thing really did happen. John carried the conversations. I listened. Nodded. Smiled. Pondered it all. Because that’s what writers do.

I take the people with me, and they don’t even know it. Each room has a unique feel to it. The crowded dining room. The lovely sitting room. The large kitchen with its team of caterers in their crisp, white uniforms, offering roasted lamb and crab cakes. The sweeping staircase. And my favorite – the three-story library with its own spiral stair.

The people are as unique as the rooms. People from the Order of Malta and the Eugene Field House. Editors. Professors. Book designers. Architects. A priest.

The quieter ones, like me, gravitate to the library. This is where literature keeps its own time capsule. One can sit and read and discover that time travel is possible.

And we did step back in time.

My husband and I stood in the middle level of that three-story library, where just a few others had migrated, and John pulled a book from the shelf and read the poem he quoted to me more than seventeen years ago.

And we remembered our story. We remembered each other and this vocation that has been so full of grace and love.

It was Twelfth Night.

We had just been to Mass and celebrated the Epiphany – where Mary and Joseph’s quiet little life with Jesus was interrupted. The whole world came to them in the form of Magi. Joseph probably did most of the talking – like my husband. Mary probably quietly took it all in – like me. Perhaps this is where they realized that their life would not be their own. It was meant for others. It was meant for everyone. Perhaps their vocation was felt most acutely in that moment.

Christ is not meant to be kept a secret. He is Lord of the nations. We must let Him be who He is. We cannot remain closed off. We must not keep Him to ourselves.

It was like someone had taken the book off the shelf and laid it open before them - for us. The old scroll contained it all. And they found themselves stepping into those words – finding themselves there.

“Caravans of camels shall fill you, dromedaries from Midian and Ephah; All from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of the LORD.” Isaiah 60:6

Epiphany 2014
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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Adventure Has Begun

It’s the excitement I used to feel when I was a child and it was time for the Children’s Film Festival on Saturday morning. The cartoons were over, and that was okay because Kukla, Fran and Ollie were about to present a movie. That’s where I met Heidi. It’s where I visited the Swiss Alps and had a curmudgeony grandpa who raised goats and befriended a girl in a wheelchair.

It’s the convergence of adventure and fear – like when the babysitter would let me stay up for Creature Feature, and I would battle Godzilla or the changeling woman who could morph into a serpent.

It’s the feeling of staying overnight for the first time at a friend’s house.

It’s the first day of middle school.

It’s the wedding night.

Or the moment the nurse puts a plastic hospital bracelet on my arm and hands me the gown which I wrap around my unborn baby and me.

The adventure has begun.

And that is how it feels every year when we pass through the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God and enter a new year.

This is where anything is possible. It’s so far beyond silly resolutions and high ideals. This is the divine adventure, where God lays the road ahead of us, and we know that we are living out Isaiah 61:2-3. We watch as Luke 4:19 unfolds. We will battle our own godzillas and serpents. We will encounter curmudgeony people who just might become family – by the power of true conversion and the mystery of the family of God. We will visit new places, give birth to new possibilities, wed ourselves to God’s amazing divine plan.

The adventure has begun.

To announce a year of favor from the LORD and a day of vindication by our God; To comfort all who mourn;to place on those who mourn in Zion a diadem instead of ashes, To give them oil of gladness instead of mourning, a glorious mantle instead of a faint spirit. (Isaiah)

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,  and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” (Luke)

So go ahead and get excited. Don’t settle for worn out resolutions. Aim high, because with God, all things are possible.
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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Catholics and the song "Mary, Did You Know"

Today, a woman on Twitter posted that she knows a lot of Evangelicals, and they all love the song Mary, Did You Know.

Then, she said that most Catholics – herself included – loathe the song.

A few years back, our entire family attended an Amy Grant Christmas concert. Some priests were seated beside us. When Amy sang Mary, Did You Know, one priest wept silently. My twenty-something daughter still talks about how much love she saw in that priest.

Back then, nobody in the family was Catholic. Not even me.

So when I saw the Tweet today, it kind of surprised me. I suppose the woman's loathing is because the song's fundamental question has to do with whether or not Mary was oblivious to the full reality of the One within her womb. How much did she know about the One she bore, the One she held, the One she nursed?

As Catholics, our sense of wonder goes deeper. It goes to the heart of Mary’s yes.  Mary is God’s most perfect creation, and she has given us a Savior.

She wasn’t stewing over whether Jesus would be able to walk on water or heal a blind man. She was marveling at the power of God. As Catholics, we enter into that moment so deeply that a songwriter’s words can’t contain it.

Only Mary’s own words, her own song – the Magnificat – will suffice.

But what I loved about the priest at that Amy Grant concert is that he didn’t loathe an Evangelical’s rendering of Mary. He didn’t critique Mark Lowry's lyrics, though the priest's understanding of Mary went far deeper than the song ever could. When he thought of Mary, he thought of the Immaculate Conception, the Mother of God, the perfect creation, Our Lady of Grace.

And he wept as he listened. Someone was singing about his greatest love – the miracle at Bethlehem. A virgin and the Son of God.

The priest knew that God places questions in our hearts.

The simple questions, like Mary did you know . . .

The profound questions, like Mary are you the Immaculate Conception?

The deep, troubling questions.

The questions-that-shake-the soul.

And all the questions are answered right here – where a woman’s fiat to God ushers in the greatest gift. For unto us, a Son is born.

She is the sign. She is the one we read about today at Mass. The priest at the Amy Grant concert fully understood who Mary is. He also understood that most evangelization begins with a question – and the evangelizing bears fruit when we welcome the question and respond—not with loathing because we have it all figured out, but when we respond with love.

Perhaps even with tears.

With wonder and awe.

What did Mary know? I think she knew a lot – far more than we can imagine. But the one thing that matters most is not what she knew.

It’s what she did.

Let it be done unto me according to your word – for I am the handmaid of the Lord. All generations will call me blessed – for the Almighty has done great things for me.

And holy is His name.

Let us lose the arrogance. Yes, we know Mary in a way Evangelicals do not. What matters is not how much more we know. What matters is how much we love. How much we share. We must become like that priest. Our love must fill us and spill over.

We let that transform us until the tears run down our cheeks – and the people sitting in our row begin to grasp something more.

We have been given a sign. There is enough for everyone to contemplate. And that is something we should encourage.

“The Lord himself, therefore,
will give you a sign.

It is this: the maiden is with child
and will soon give birth to a son
whom she will call Immanuel,
a name which means “God-is-with-us.” – Isaiah 7:14
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Monday, December 9, 2013

Both the resume and the pedigree would have to resemble Christ - and they do.


I've spent a lot of time thinking about why I'm Catholic. My shortest answer is simply that it is a
St. John Lateran, Rome -Consecrated in 324 A.D
result of grace moving in my life (hence the name of my column, podcasts and blog).

But I haven't spent much time thinking (or writing) about the reason why most serious fundamentalists and evangelicals are NOT Catholic--
 --and why they do not even consider it a viable option or even a possible choice among many choices.
 It comes down to this. The Catholic Church does not see herself as a possible choice among many choices. The fact that the Church states that She is the Church Christ founded makes most (if not all) evangelicals dismiss her completely.
It sounds too much like a cult.
Cults believe they are the Church. The Way. Chosen. Established by God Himself.
So, Catholicism is lumped in with the groups that make this claim. You say that you are the Church Jesus Christ founded. Enough said. I'm out of here.
There is a problem with that generalization. What if there really is a Church that was founded by Jesus?
She would have to be present from the moment of Pentecost forward. She would have weathered the gates of hell and still be standing. She would have to be able to point to a line of holy people that were made holy while in the embrace of this Church. She would have to have a message that touches hearts of people in every culture and time. She would have to transcend time, politics, history, culture, trends, whims, and the theoretical. She would have to be able to set up shop in Calcutta, India and be as valid there as she is in Des Moines, Iowa or New York City or La Paz, Bolivia.
She would have to have a resume.
She would have to have a pedigree.
Both the resume and the pedigree would have to resemble Christ.
History would have to affirm her claim and Christ would have to be present there. Really and truly.
One, holy, catholic, apostolic.
There is only one antidote to the fear that says, "You can't say that! You can't say that you are the Church! Come on. You're sounding like a cult now."
The only antidote to that kind of fear is Jesus Christ Himself.
He is here.
His Body is here, for you.
His Blood is here, poured out for you.
The same Christ.
A perfect love.
And perfect love casts out fear.
Yes, it is a radical claim. It is an absurd claim - unless it is true. John 6. It's true.
Come home. He's waiting for you. In the Eucharist.

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Advent is a polite guest.

I have dipped my toes in the chaos of the Christmas-before-Advent scene. I’ve been to the mall once.

I’ve landed on radio stations that play Christmas music around the clock – and quickly popped in my Rosary CD to escape the noise. I’ve seen enough of commercialized Christmas even though I have actively avoided it this year.

Advent is the only antidote.

But Advent only comes to those who know how to get quiet. It hides from those who have to hurry. It will never be found in the crowded places and packed spaces of shopping aisles and city crosswalks.

Advent waits to be invited to your December. It will not show up on its own. It is a polite guest. It will not crash your party.

Christmas-without-Advent is a fake. An imposter. We all know it.

The Christmas we all need – the one we long for – the one we can imagine so clearly . . . it only comes to those who walk alongside Mary.

In the quiet.

Away from the crowds.

Where Sacred Scripture comes alive and holiness is real.

It’s no mirage – this Advent journey. It’s necessary. It’s the way to Christmas. The only road to Bethlehem.

The journey that leads to Christ.
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Monday, December 2, 2013

December 2013 Catholic by Grace Column


My due date was the 26th of December, but by Christmas Eve 1985, I was ready to be done with it.

I stretched out on the bed and reluctantly prepared for another night of leg cramps and propped pillows. The Christmas presents were wrapped and ready. The Christmas cookies decorated. The overnight hospital bag was packed and waiting in the corner. My sister had arrived and was ready to look after my daughter.

Still, nothing happened.

The first pain hit at 9:30 PM. I knew immediately that I had skipped early labor and entered active labor. At the hospital, the nurse called it precipitate delivery. There would be no time for pain medicine. I was disappointed, but at least something was happening. I wouldn’t be pregnant forever.

I looked at the clock and wondered if our baby’s birthday would be Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

Then the nurse checked the heartbeat and the questions about pain medicine and possible arrival time turned into terrible silence.

Something was wrong. The nurse wasn’t smiling. She just kept moving the obstetrical stethoscope from one spot to another.

“I’m having trouble finding the heartbeat.” After a few more attempts, she muttered something about getting the doctor, and I was left alone in the small examination room

The wait was excruciating. I knew what labor was like. I’d been through it two years earlier. I couldn’t imagine giving birth while overcome by grief.

Sometimes, waiting is like a game. It’s fun. Exciting.

Sometimes, waiting is a chore. It’s demanding. Requires effort.

Sometimes, waiting is agonizing. Terrifying. Earth-shattering.

This pregnancy had been all of these.

Before I became Catholic, every day between Halloween and December 25th was Christmas, not Advent. I focused on making sure the food was ready, the cards were sent, and the presents were wrapped. I prepared the house for Christmas, but I did not stop to think about how to prepare myself for Christmas.

Bottom line, I did not know how to wait.

As Catholics, we know that Advent is about waiting. Preparing. Journeying with Israel through Salvation History. A man grows into a family. Twelve sons become twelve tribes. The tribes become a nation. Prophets, judges and kings lead them. Everything presses on to one great event.

A young woman steps into the center of all things and says yes to the most incredible proposition of all time. God has chosen you, Mary. And all creation waits for an answer.

As that final week of Advent arrives, we see clearly. This is more than a journey through time. This is a journey to a person.

To the God-man. Messiah. Mary’s child.  God’s own Son.

At times, the wait was exciting. Seas parted. Angels visited. Walls tumbled. A donkey talked.

At times, the wait was difficult. Brothers argued. Kings failed. Generations were exiled.

At times, the wait was terrifying. People died. Nations fought. God was silent.

And then, He spoke.

With one word, the waiting was over. Unto us a child is born. Unto us a son is given. And upon his shoulders, dominion rests. (Isaiah 9:6).

Advent quietly passes. A baby cries. The wait is over.

On Christmas Eve 1985, a doctor stepped into the examination room and heard a heartbeat. My son was born at 11:53 PM. The wait was over.

Every year, we pass through Advent and enter Christmas. The changing liturgical seasons are always fresh and new, like it is all happening right now – the waiting, the expectation, the fulfillment. And so it is.

 

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Advent - and an epiphany with a lowercase e

Advent has begun.

During morning prayers, I thought of something that has never dawned on me before.

I was raised in a Christian home, so I suppose I have always known that my heart must be open to receive the Lord. I must say there is room in my life, my heart, my thoughts, my work, my play and my all for you, O Lord.

And then I saw Mary and Joseph in my mind, rushing toward the stable, for there was no room for them in the inn. Hurrying, for labor had begun. It was time for Mary to deliver God’s Son.

And there was room in the stable, not only for Jesus Christ to be born, but for Mary, and Joseph, and shepherds, and a little later, the Magi. There was room for animals and starlight and rejoicing. For heavy labor. For quiet rest.

And it must be this way in our lives, our hearts, our thoughts.

We must make room for Jesus – and also for Mary, and Joseph, and the Saints, and the shepherds who are the poor among us, and the Magi who are the rich. Those who come from places near to us – and places we will never see.

We must have room for the animals – room in our hearts like St. Francis had.

We must stand in the starlight of that celestial proclamation.

We must let all of this come into our lives, in times of rejoicing, or labor, or quiet rest.

Let us begin Advent, with open hearts and minds and lives.

Come, let us prepare and be ready to receive. Let our lives become humble stables welcoming all in the name of Christ.

It has begun.
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Mary's Touch Interview with Denise Bossert: Listen December 6th, 7th, and 8th


The weekend of December 6th is the air date of my interview with Mary’s Touch. They will be receiving the download by noon on December 6th.

Join Cheri Lomonte and me--


Airs on Radio Maria - http://radiomaria.us/

Click on LISTEN LIVE button (and note the times are listed for Central Time)

Wednesday 1:00 PM (Central time)
Sunday 9:00 AM (Central time)

 


Click on LISTEN Online button  and then click where it says Click below to listen online!/ via Computer(and note times are listed for Central Time)

KEDC 88.5
College Station, TX
Saturday 3:30 PM (Central time)
Sunday   8:30 PM (Central time)

 

Guadalupe Radio Network - http://grnonline.com/

On the right hand column, click on one of these two stations under LISTEN LIVE heading or simply click on the link below and go directly to the online radio link:


KJMA - South Texas
Sunday 5:30 PM (Central time)


Indianapolis, IN

Click on LISTEN ONLINE and then click LISTEN LIVE
Saturday & Sunday 11:30 AM (Eastern time)

 

St. Gabriel Radio - http://stgabrielradio.com/

Click on blue LISTEN NOW button at top of website

Sunday 1:30 PM (Eastern time)

  


Click on LISTEN NOW button (and note the times are listed for Central Time)
"Bridging the gap between Faith and everyday life!"

Sunday 7:00 AM (Central time)
Sunday 8:30 PM (Central time)

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Friday, November 15, 2013

That Famous Quote by Schindler & the Words of Jesus that Haunt Me

Oskar Schindler’s quote in the 1993 film Schindler’s List haunts me.

I didn’t do enough.

It haunts me, like the story of the rich man who wanted to know what he must do to be saved, and Jesus put it simply. Sell what you have and give it to the poor.

It haunts me, like the words of Jesus when He said, depart from me for I did not know you.

It haunts me, because I am an American. Comfortably middle class, though not always so. I have plenty. A custom house on four acres. Two vehicles that are over five years old, but paid for. A Dooney & Bourke purse my husband gave me one Christmas. A laptop – my third, or is it my fourth? I have a really warm Eddie Bauer winter coat. It would keep me warm anywhere, except the Arctic Circle. I have clothes in three sizes – just because I have the luxury of eating too much, and I do it far too often. I have a pair of J.Jill boots that I love – with these neat buckles that run up the back of the leg. I have books – so many books – and I can order more any time I want. A Kindle and an Amazon membership make it crazy-easy to keep a constant flow of books coming into my life.

Then, there is a tragedy like the one in the Philippines. Our Archbishop and priest ask us to be generous. I’m not even sure what that would look like. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t mean I should drop a five in the offering plate.

Not when I have been given so much. Not when I am fully capable of giving more. Yes, it haunts me.

At the end of this life, I wonder if I will be mumbling Schindler’s line. I didn’t do enough.

I wonder even more what the Lord will say.

Here’s the thing. What He says is not set in stone – yet. Today is the day for me to go and reach into my treasure chest – which is really His anyway – and pull up a gift worthy of a King.

It is about the people in the Philippines.

But it is also about Jesus Christ.

It haunts me, because I do not want to hear Him say, depart from me.

I long to hear Him say the words that are full of life and love. What you did, you did for me. Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into your rest.

Yes. That is what I long to hear.

And today is the day of decision.
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Friday, November 8, 2013

Book Contract, Author Status, and Life as a Catholic Writer


I have wanted to be a writer since I was in 9th grade. That’s when Mr. Canterbury made us write short stories and read them to the class. I shook. I found it hard to swallow. But I fell in love with writing and sharing my words with others. I realized not everyone feels that way about writing when Val asked me to be her ghost writer the next time Mr. Canterbury gave us a short story assignment. I declined the offer, but Val affirmed something that needed some affirmation. I was born to write, and I was pretty good at it.

I was fourteen.

Now, I’m forty-nine.

It was a long time coming, but I have a book contract. I can finally say I’m an author, although it feels a lot like saying I’m a columnist – a title that was far easier to obtain. The sky doesn't turn to rainbows when I say it. I don't hear music swell. There is no drumroll. I am a columnist. And now, I am an author.

You think everything will change when you have a contract. Literary agent Rachel Gardner sums it up well here.http://www.rachellegardner.com/2013/11/when-you-sign-a-book-deal/

Perhaps the greatest change is that there is a sense of justification when I sit at the computer. I always felt like I should be cleaning or running errands. I still feel those things calling, but it’s easier to keep writing. I am an author after all. We authors sit at the computer. It's what we do.

But the house still needs to be cleaned. The errands must still be run. So, I’m still me.

The best part about being a Catholic author is that I have friends in high places, and like the writer to the Hebrews says, they are a great cloud of witness. They cheer me on. They pull me through days of writer’s block and hold my hand when I feel the rush of adrenaline that comes with radio spots.

And Mary has become my greatest advocate as a writer. She keeps me little. She wraps me in her mantle. She shares her story. And I listen.

This is what I was born to do. When everything falls away and it’s just Mary talking to my soul, I know that I know that I know – this is what I was born to do.

The road to publication is long. Books don’t pop up on Amazon the second you sign a contract. But even then, Mary yields grace. This is the best part. The waiting. Waiting with her.

It’s like being in Advent for a year. Not a bad place to be.

Pray for me.

Pray that I will glorify Jesus Christ.

Pray that the Blessed Mother will become vivid – profoundly real and accessible – to readers.

Pray that I will let Jesus and Mary take center stage. All for Jesus through Mary.

Yes, that is the correct posture. And it feels amazing – as it always does when one knows this is what I was born to do. And this is how I was meant to do it.

 

 

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Life on Crane Creek


Crane Creek was the rambling stream that ran behind our house in the heat of summer. It was the swelling water that rushed mightily in the spring and flooded the basements in Saratoga, except ours – thanks to the sump pump the board of trustees included in the building plan of the new parsonage (think Protestant rectory).

Crane Creek was the frozen play land where I first learned to keep my ankles firm when they wanted to twist and buckle in my new white ice skates. The creek where some guy veered off the road one night and drove down the embankment and right out on the ice. And we all marveled that he didn’t fall through and drown.

That creek ran beside the park where I slid down a splintery slide and tore an eight-inch hole in my favorite jeans – back when I was still young enough to climb the slide but old enough to care about favorite jeans.

It’s where my sister, brother and I cut grass and made pocket change so that we could pay for pool admission at the local KOA.

Crane Creek. It’s where my brother caught blue gill too small to eat, and I became an Iowa girl always and forever.

It’s where I took a walk with my prom date one night and realized how much I didn’t want to move to my father’s new pastorate. I wanted to stay there, by the creek, and near friends, and marry and have babies who grew up to skate and slide and fish right there.

Place matters.

It forms us. Never leaves us. Like the Church, where our fingers dip, where we were washed and freed from every stain. Where we return every Lent and remember. Reclaim. Renew.

It stays with us, not only as long as the brain cells function and synapses work without fail.

It’s there always. If we will it.

A water that captures us and captivates us. And never lets go.

Water strong enough to hold us, even when we crash into it like the driver on a cold January night. Yes, even then it saves us. Protects us. Bears us up.

It’s always there, even if we travel miles, take up residence in another state, stop skating, stop remembering.

It doesn’t forget, but waits for us to remember.

And we make the long drive home again and claim our heritage.

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