Thursday, April 30, 2009

Never Lose Hope for Reconciliation and Conversion

I have two hours every week with our Eucharistic Lord. It requires getting up at 2:30 in the morning and drinking coffee until I am finally able to keep my eyes open. Then, I spend the hours of 3 to 5 A.M. at the Adoration chapel.

I pray for the same thing every week. Sometimes, there are additional petitions. But always, I pray for the conversion and reconciliation of a certain set of dear ones.

On Thursday evening (tonight), I always wonder why I do it. I have doubts that my prayers are making any difference.

This afternoon, I received an email from Dr. Robert Moynihan at Inside the Vatican. No, I don't know him personally. I'm simply on the mailing list.

Anyway, today's article posed the question: What has Kirill, Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, done since his election, and what are the prospects for a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI?

Maybe you don't know church history. The rift between these two branches came nearly 1,000 years ago (in 1054).

But the article points out that Pope Benedict XVI believes and has said that he held “firm hope” of uniting the two Churches.

Okay, if the Holy Father can pray for that union - and pray with expectation - then I can get up again in the middle of the night and pray for a handful of people who are dear to me.
Tonight, I will pray the same prayers again, but I will also add Pope Benedict and Patriarch Kirill's petition to my list. What a wonderful day of reconciliation that would be!


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Confirmation Class - 2009

I didn't plan to work in the 8th grade Confirmation classroom this year. I didn't expect to step into a classroom at all. I thought I had put that behind me when I stepped away from teaching a couple of years ago to write.

But last September, when I realized that our deacon didn't have a permanent assistant, that he would have to rely on a different parent every week to help keep the class in order, I heard the Spirit prompting me.

I argued for a few minutes. But I don't want to teach. Middle school isn't my strong suit, you know that, Holy Spirit. And John and I won't have any free time at all. We like our weekly mom-and-dad time alone. Drop our daughter off. Head to Dairy Queen. Okay, okay. I'm going.

And I walked up to the good deacon and offered my services. He was shocked. That kind of thing doesn't usually happen without a lot of arm twisting.

Last week, I not only helped out in the classroom, I taught a portion of the class on my own while Deacon led a special class for another grade level.

I took a moment to tell the class what Confirmation means to me.

It means that the Holy Spirit comes upon me with greater power and seals me for greater service. It means that I am empowered to do those things that the Lord has called me to do.

Things God has placed on my heart and I desire to do. And those things that God has placed on my heart and I really want to resist.

Like helping out with the 8th grade Confirmation class instead of eating ice cream at Dairy Queen on Wednesday evening, alone with my husband.

The students looked at me closely and saw that I was smiling. They smiled back, realizing that this year had been a bit of a sacrifice for me, but I counted it worth it all. They were worth it all. (They know I really do like them and care about them.)

Then I told them something about me that they didn't know. The Holy Spirit will also open doors for you in areas that you greatly desire to serve.

For years, I wanted to write. I wrote and wrote and wrote. Publishers and editors sent me rejection after rejection - all throughout my twenties and thirties.

When I was 40, I converted to the Catholic Church and was Confirmed in the Faith, sealed by the Holy Spirit, empowered to do those things God has called me to do.

In the last four years, since the year I entered the Church, over 26 diocesan papers have carried my articles. I have written for online Catholic magazines and Catholic women's magazines. I honestly don't have enough material to keep up with the demand. That has never happened before.

Sure, sometimes the Holy Spirit closes doors to places we would like to go. And sometimes, what we want isn't really what God wants. But when our desire matches what God desires, Confirmation is the key to the whole thing.

The fire of the Spirit begins with Baptism. This fire receives rocket fuel at Confirmation. And there is no limit to what God can do.

He can prompt the heart of man (and woman) to do things he never would have wanted to do, and He can open doors to the very things the man (or woman) was created to do.

How are you fulfilling your call?


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

St. Louis Mary Grignion de Montfort - all for Jesus through Mary

I have spent the entire day writing. I'm tired. I have almost nothing left to give anyone, except a bad attitude.

I want to eat chocolate and watch brainless T.V.

And yet, these are the days I've promised Our Lady. I have learned to say, all for Jesus through Mary, and I mean it. Even on days when I have nothing more to give. Especially on days when I have nothing more to give.

The article was a good one; the editor has already scheduled it for publication. I could tell that the Blessed Mother was with me in the writing. And I know she will be with me tonight as I try to recharge.

Pray for me, St. Louis de Montfort. Help me to remain faithful, especially on days like today.

Blessed Feast of St. Louis de Montfort.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Con Oraciones Para Todas Las Personas En Mexico

Padre Nuestro. . .

Dios te salve Maria. . .


Cardinal Rigali to those in public office

Dear Representative,

In a society where disagreements on abortion and the rights of the unborn child seem persistent and intractable, there are some statements that almost everyone can endorse. First, the fact that over a million abortions take place every year in this country is a tragedy, and we should at least take steps to reduce abortions. Second, no woman should ever have to undergo an abortion because she feels she has no other choice or because alternatives were unavailable or not made known to her. An abortion performed under such social and economic duress meets no one's standard for "freedom of choice." If you agree with these statements, I hope you will support and co-sponsor the Pregnant Women Support Act recently reintroduced by Representative Lincoln Davis (D- TN).

Read more of Cardinal Rigali's letter at:

I Am In Charge of Absolutely Nothing - how about you?

(Article written in November 2008)

When I was thirty-one, my husband stopped loving me. Within months, I wondered if he ever really had loved me.

A few years later, my dad died suddenly. For the first time, I experienced grief like never before.

Last week, my daughter announced that she is going to have a baby. She’s not married. She’s not ready to be married. (My daughter had a miscarriage on Dec. 8, thus proving that I really am not in control of anything. . . as I had begun to find joy in the arrival of my first grandchild.)

In times like these, I realize that I am in charge of absolutely nothing. It makes me think this is how the Apostles must have felt when their little boat was going under and there wasn’t a thing they could do about it.

In those moments, I feel one of two emotions. Anger or fear. Usually, though, it’s fear, but neither emotion does me any good.

When I get angry, I usually make a bigger mess of things. In fact, I can’t think of one time when anger has served me well. And so, sometimes, I manage to hold my temper long enough to be tempted by its alter-ego. Fear. When I feel angry, I look out at others and lash out at those around me. When I become afraid, I usually look down and see the spiraling staircase into despair. And I realize how close I really am to giving up on hope and faith.

What I should do, though, is look up. Not out. Not down. But up.

That’s when I hear the voice of love saying, perfect love casts out fear. It’s more a commentary on God’s love for me than my love for Him. His love is perfect. My love isn’t yet perfected. But, I’m trying. And when I look up and search for Him, He tells me, Give it up. Stop trying to control the situation. Stop trying to redeem the situation. Stop trying to protect yourself from the few crosses that you happen to have in this life. The master reminds me that He is in control. He is the redeemer. He is the protector. And any crosses that come my way, well, He has already conquered them all.

It doesn’t mean I won’t have to pick them up and carry them for awhile. It simply means I have been given the grace to do it.

I’m beginning to realize something about crosses. If I pick up the cross and carry it, I realize that there is enough grace. If I decide to throw a tantrum or frantically reconstruct the cross into a more tolerable shape, I never seem to succeed at it. I just get tired – and bitter.

A few years back, I was eating in a restaurant and began choking. When I realized that I was not able to clear my throat, I panicked and began thrashing about horribly to get someone’s attention. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t do anything, except travel straight through the valley of the shadow of death.

My husband attempted the Heimlich some seven or eight times. I realized, I was probably going to die right then and there. Okay, I said (to myself and to God). Okay, let’s just get on with it if this is it. And I wondered if I would see Our Lord’s face when I passed through the darkness. That was one scary cross. I didn’t want it. But I said okay, Lord, okay.

And peace came over me. The kind of peace that comes when you tell God, okay.
In that very moment, the food shifted in my throat. I coughed and coughed. And the air rushed in.

I’d have to say that is the moment when I felt the least control over my own life, and still, God was there. And He’s promised to be with me always, even when I face days like this. Okay, Lord. I trust in you.

(Final note: My daughter is expecting again. I just found out. You know what? Very little has changed in the circumstances in these last few months, and yet everything has changed. Why? Because I have changed.)


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Remember Scholastic Book Orders? Well, it's about that good!

My friend has my taste in books down to a science. She gives me these tidbits, little quotes, until I'm hooked. Then I ask for the title. I send another email and ask for the author's name one more time.

Finally, I place the order.

When the book arrives, I'm as excited as an elementary student on the day the Scholastic book orders come in.

My new book came today; it's already a hit.

Here's a tidbit for you. "All the battles of life can be lost without irreparable consequences, provided one wins the most important, the unique one which is absolutely necessary to win: that which involves the salvation of one's own soul."

Okay, I'll leave you with that little glimpse into The Deceiver by Fr. Livio Fanzaga. I gotta go. . .I have a book to read!


Confirmation and what it means to Catholic bloggers

In a couple of weeks, I will have the great joy of watching the young people in our Confirmation class receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.

I have assisted in their classroom all year, and now the moment has come.

They will be anointed with Holy Chrism Oil. They will be anointed by one who has been given the authority by the Church (through 2000 years of apostolic succession that began with Our Lord and St. Peter) to anoint them and send them into the world. The Holy Spirit will come upon them in a profound way. And they will be empowered to share the Good News of the Gospel with others.

And really, isn't that what we do as Catholic writers? There are many gifts (writing is our gift), but one message.

Isaiah (61:1) sums it up this way:

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners.
To those newly confirmed, God bless you as you fulfill your calling in Christ Jesus!


Friday, April 24, 2009

God's Idea of Going Green

In case you missed the Catholic Exchange article that ran this week, here it is:

Grandpa was a farmer. He had to be the most “green” man I have ever met. If my grandparents couldn’t grow it or raise it, they didn’t eat it. Grandma’s flowers came out of her flower bed. The milk came from the cow. The blackberries and red raspberries were picked from the brambles that grew behind the chicken coop. The scraps went to the dog or the hogs. And Grandpa had perfected the art of crop rotation and organic fertilization.

Maybe that’s why I find today’s version of going green a bit silly. The “green game” counterfeits real stewardship. For example, some Hollywood celebrities and politicians have come up with a new idea. It’s called paying carbon credits. When one takes his private jet for a ride and wastes fuel and spews carbon into the atmosphere, he simply writes a check to some environmentalist group to offset the damage the trip may have caused the environment. He signs a hefty check and purges the guilt.

Some “greenies” say that future generations will have to pay a carbon tax when they give birth, to offset the “footprint” their child will make over the course of a lifetime on planet earth.

Okay, someone needs to say it. The emperor has no clothes.

It seems to me that some environmental elitists have a few things out of whack. First, I think their idea of penance is skewed. If they want to write a check to make society better, I can think of a few charitable venues. The other thing that bothers me is the potential quagmire of focusing on human “footprints.” It seems like the wrong answer to a real problem.

The problem isn’t in having children. In fact, the “greenest” families seem to be large families. The rest of us could learn a few lessons from them. In general, the problem is how we raise our families and whether or not our society still believes that babies are a gift to the world, not taxing on the world.

Today’s buzz words are “go green.” When I was growing up, it was “give a hoot, don’t pollute.”

God has a name for it. He calls it good stewardship.

In a nutshell, use what you have, and use it carefully. Give all that you can, and give it freely. Share your talents, and do it joyfully.

One of my favorite Catholic phrases is to be rightly ordered. I like that. When one is rightly ordered, things will be used and not abused. Babies will be loved and not destroyed. And we will begin to see Jesus in the face of everyone around us. We need to have a rightly ordered approach to going green, and we get there by focusing on being good stewards of what God has given us.

When that happens, we remember that everything is a gift from God. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton got it right when she urged those around her to “live simply that all may simply live.” Now that gives proper depth and purpose to going green! It’s not a slogan. It’s not even a way of life. It’s faith in action.

Fr. Thomas Dubay in his book Happy Are You Poor summarizes the problem very well. “We have had a Niagara of words, a trickle of action” (25). While environmentalists and politicians have many words and even some crazy ideas about how to handle the problems that plague planet earth, they will never have the solution to global poverty and environmental waste unless they factor in the One who made the world. The solution, as Fr. Dubay points out, is a radical readiness to Gospel principles. It means living like the saints. Americans – even American Christians – have great difficulty with this kind of stewardship. Fr. Dubay puts a fine point on it when he writes, “We are not perceived as men on fire. We look too much like everyone else” (73).

We must let our faith infuse every part of our lives. Then, we won’t need a mandate to go green. We’ll simply be good stewards of God’s riches. The earth. Food. Air. And even the gift of children.

Blog Award Nominations Begin May 1

2009 Catholic New Media Awards ---

Nominating will take place the entire month of May and voting will take place the entire Month of June.

To register as a member, go to:


Images Matter: Part Two

A few weeks ago, the Obama Administration lifted a ban on images of returning fallen heroes from Iraq and Afghanistan.

In a blog posting, I pointed out that images matter. It is difficult, for instance, to ignore the horrors of war when we see images of fallen soldiers coming home in coffins draped in American flags. Likewise, it is difficult to ignore the tragedy and injustice of child abuse when we see images of abused children. (For that matter, animal abuse and environmental issues bother us far more when we see images that make these problems real to us.)

And now, it seems likely that the Administration will release images of harsh interrogation against suspected terrorists. The Administration knows that images matter. It will be difficult to support such interrogation techniques when we, the American public, are confronted with graphic images.

Images matter.

And so, the Administration asks Catholic Universities to cover up the image upon which they were founded. They know, images matter.

And the media publishes the images of fallen soldiers and victims of child abuse and (it seems likely) images of possible torture against terrorist suspects. They know, images matter.

But the image of an unborn child, aborted at any stage of gestation, will not be published. You won't see it. Not because it is banned. Not because it is in poor taste. But because you will clearly see that it is an evil that trumps all evils.

They know, images matter.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Do You Pray the Rosary?

The Rosary is one of those odd new things that converts approach tentatively. Really, it doesn't fit neatly into our schema. We aren't even sure if it will make a difference. We just start praying it because so many Catholics tell us it is a powerful prayer.

We pick up the unfamiliar beads with its five decades. We hold it in our right hand and the booklet that explains how to get started in our left hand. And we give it a try.

It reminds me of David. Little David, that is, not King David. The boy who picked up five little stones and brought down a giant with them.

That is the Rosary. Five little decades, and a power so strong it can bring down the Goliath in your world.

Do I pray the Rosary? Probably not nearly enough. But I'll tell you this, those Catholics are right. My husband is Catholic today because I gave him to Our Lady and picked up a Rosary.

In fact, I put each member of my family on each of the five decades of the Rosary. Since doing that, two of the five have entered the Church.

Do you have five people on your heart? Give them to Our Lady and pick up your Rosary!


Evangelical Protestants and Purgatory

Recently, a catechumen confided in me that she was frustrated by her inability to explain the truth of Purgatory to an Evangelical Protestant family member.

My heart goes out to her. I remember what it was like to discover the teachings of the Church, knowing that I had found solid ground, true terra firma, but frustrated by my own inability to give a convincing defense of the faith to someone I love.

At first, the truth just makes sense in the quiet of our hearts. The trouble for new converts is that the ability to articulate what we are "sensing" takes time.

There is a great distance between understanding and being able to help someone else understand.

I'm posting my response to her here in the event that some reader is struggling with this same thing:

Dear Friend,

I wanted to encourage you today, especially in the area of Purgatory.

I think you are closer to understanding this teaching than you may realize. As evangelicals, we believed that we would be changed when we see Jesus. We knew that we weren't ready to come into the full presence of God - because we were familiar with the scripture passage that tells us that only the righteous one can stand in God's presence.

So, we talked about (and sang songs about) being changed when we enter eternity.

The thing of it is, as former Evangelicals, we said "changed in an instant" (which still implies time, though very, very short and quick). Outside of space and time, even the word instant doesn't make sense. And Catholics believe that purgatory is a place outside of time (maybe even outside of what we understand as "place"), something like the narthex of heaven. It is in this non-time place that we are made perfect.

Some Catholics have put time frames on it, saying that someone had so much "changing" or "cleaning up" to do that they would probably be in Purgatory for a certain number of years. But really, that is placing an earthly rubric on something that cannot be defined by or confined within the perameters of earthly terms. It can only be vaguely understood - because of our own limitations of seeing everything as part of time and space.

So, we always believed that we would be changed. Evangelicals said "in an instant" and some Catholics put a time frame on it. But really, it isn't about time. It is about a process. Being made ready to meet God, being made fully holy and righteous.

This change begins now, in this faith journey. We are being changed. We are not being covered over by the holiness of Jesus. We are being changed into the likeness of Jesus. And whatever still must change when we enter eternity, in God's infinite mercy, he will take us through that final process. Purgatory is a word for that process. It speaks of more grace, not less. It speaks to the importance of being completely righteous. . . completing the work that He began in us. And that is why I think you are closer to "getting" it than you realize. For that matter, evangelicals are as well.

I think it is the word Purgatory (and a whole set of baggage from the Protestant Reformation) that puts stumbling blocks in the way.

It is enough to know that we will be changed. It is a process beyond time and place. It is a final helping of mercy and grace from our Lord of justice. It is a necessary process so that mercy and justice and grace can prepare you for a face-to-face with God for all eternity - and not be completely destroyed in the process. Only the righteous will see God.

I think I sent the quote by C.S. Lewis on Purgatory in a previous letter. In case I didn't I will put it at the end of this email.

Don't lose your balance when you are questioned by your friends and family. It is an opportunity for you to ask questions of your parish priest, RCIA instructor, sponsor, and me so that you can get answers that your soul needs/wants. The deeper you dig for those answers, the more you will find that you have answers for others. The difference is that you are ready to receive the answers and they may need more prayer and more time.

I see that my note has become rather lengthy. And so, I leave you with C.S. Lewis and the joy that whatever remains unfinished in us, will be completed - for He is faithful. Even so, strive to be holy in all that you do. Let grace change you this day, and every day that you are given air to breathe.

Blessed Easter,

From Letters to Malcom by C.S. Lewis
Our souls demand Purgatory, don’t they? Would it not break the heart if God said to us, “Is it true, my son, that your breath smells and your rags drip with mud and slime, but we are charitable here and no one will upbraid you with these things, nor draw away from you. Enter into the joy”? Should we not reply, “With submission, Sir, and if there is no objection, I’d rather be cleaned first.” “It may hurt, you know.” – “Even so, Sir.”

I assume that the process of purification will normally involve suffering. Partly from tradition; partly because most real good that has been done in this life has involved it. But I don’t think suffering is the purpose of the purgation. I can well believe that people neither much worse nor much better than I will suffer less than I or more. “No nonsense about merit.” The treatment given will be the one required, whether it hurts little or much.

My favourite image on this matter comes from the dentist’s chair. I hope that when the tooth of life is drawn and I am “coming round” a voice will say, “Rinse your mouth out with this.” This will be Purgatory.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Taking Padre Pio as a Spiritual Director

Padre Pio's Advice:

1. Put your trust in Christ as your personal Savior.
2. Know that you have no righteousness of your own.
3. Remember that good works come only through Christ.
4. Recognize that the devil is a real individual, bent on destroying you, but do not fear him.
5. Always pray to God and say, in every circumstance, "Thy will be done."
6. Love the cross.
7. Offer every action up to God.
8. Never worry.
9. Aspire to the heavenly prize.
10.Rejoice in the Lord (especially in your suffering).

Taken from Padre Pio: The True Story by C. Bernard Ruffin, published by Our Sunday Visitor, INC.

That First Bike Ride

My dad convinced me to get on the bike - the one without training wheels. I should have seen it all coming. But I didn't. I simply obeyed my father.

I threw my leg over the banana seat, and Dad grabbed the back of the bike and started running. My legs were moving fast to keep up with the pedals.

Then, he let go. I was on my own, blazing down the country lane with wind in my face and no understanding of brakes.

For a moment, I thought my dad might not love me as much as I had always believed he did. I'm going to die. I was sure of it. And my own father had flung me down the road to meet my doom.

It didn't end well. I landed in a ditch and started crying.

The next thing I remember was being held by my dad. Years later, I learned that he had watched me go - and kept on watching until the crazy ride finally ended. He said that he had been as worried about me as I had been for myself.
God the Father has done this to me many times as well. Those "teachable moments" can be really frightening. They can even make us wonder if God has stopped loving us or that He has some evil plan in mind for us.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
What is God the Father prodding you to try? Go ahead, climb aboard and let Him give you a push. Unlike earthly fathers, God is omnipotent and He really will protect you as you walk in His plan for your life.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Rhythm of the Seasons

I watch for it every year. Those first glimpses of green, so straight, so promising. And I feel a rightness about life. A rhythm. A plan.

The seasons have a cycle and all forms of life fall into step.

And that is one of the most beautiful aspects of the Church Calendar. There is a rightness about the liturgical rhythm. A plan. A cycle of seasons. And every soul falls into step with that cycle.

On Easter Vigil, we see it beginning. On Good Friday, a seed fell to the ground. But then, something amazing happened. Our Lord, the Lord of Life, brought life out of death.

And we are the new crop.

If you are blessed enough to call the Catholic Church your home, then you enjoy the rhyme and reason and rhythm of the liturgical calendar.

See the field - all green with promise - look closely. You are there. . . somewhere. And so am I.

Becoming Saints 101

I remember student teaching. I didn't feel like a teacher. I still felt more like the student, and yet, I was placed in a situation in which I had to act like the teacher. My success among the students demanded that I set aside my own self-perceptions and put on the image of a teacher.

I think our journey to sainthood is like this at times. If we think about what the saints do on the other side, we absolutely know a few things (and it is wise to begin imitating them now):

First, they worship God.
Second, they commune with God.
Third, they intercede (for us) before the Throne of God.

We see these things in the Letter to the Hebrews and in the Book of Revelation. While there are many things we cannot know about the saints, these are things we do know.

And so, dear saints-in-the-making, you must be in the process of learning how to take on these roles. After all, this is what you will be doing with all of eternity if you fulfill your ultimate call to be a saint.

It is why Mass is so important. It is why receiving Holy Communion is so important. It is why you must actually pray for those you have promised to lift up in prayer!

By doing these things, we are learning how to be saints. To worship God in the most perfect Sacrifice of the Mass. To commune with Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament. And to intercede for those we love.

And maybe one day, you will take your own place among that Great Cloud of Witnesses.


New Archbishop Named for St. Louis!

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (Catholic Online) - The speculation which was lighting up the blogoshere last night concerning who would succeed Archbishop Burke in St. Louis has been put to rest. This morning, Rocco Palmo, ever accurate and usually first in all news of this sort, reports on his excellent weblog "Whispers in the Loggia": "Settling the most-awaited of the current docket of appointments, the Pope has named Bishop Robert Carlson of Saginaw as archbishop of St Louis.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Fence Line Ecosystems

I surf the blogosphere. If you are reading this, you probably do too.

The other day, I was thinking about fence lines and how they generate their own ecosystem. A bird lands on the fence, deposits seed along with its own natural fertilizer, and after awhile, the fence is choked with volunteer deciduous and coniferous trees, wild flowers and weeds.

On a whim, I googled "fence lines" and "sitting on the fence" and "fence ecosystems" and clicked on a blog that popped up.

The writing was engaging; so I read the post in its entirety.

The writers had recently moved to Scotland (from Seattle). And they were writing about how the experience had removed American blinders so that they could now see the poor and needy. Their fast-track, upwardly-mobile lifestyle in Seattle had kept them comfortably ignorant of social justice and poverty issues.

Now they saw a need and wanted to help.

They realized that they had a choice. They could stop sitting on the fence and act on their new awareness of the needy around them, or they could continue to cling to a faith that was easy and demanded very little of them.

I realized the blog was a couple of years old. So, I decided to see if there were any recent entries. I couldn't help wondering if this young couple had followed God's call and effected a change in the lives of those around them.

I discovered that the young couple returned to Seattle at some point and now have a new baby and a toddler.

As far as I could tell, there weren't any more entries about the poor and needy. Lots of pictures of the kids and life in general, but no updates on faith ponderings or good works.

I don't know if this means they became caught up in life once again and forgot about epiphanies when they returned to the United States. Maybe children came and they had other things to think about.

Or maybe they are still sitting on that fence, enjoying their own little ecosystem.

This week, find a way to get off the fence and help enhance someone else's "ecosystem". Find the needy all around you and do something for the least of these. . .


Snares That Compromise The Catholic Writer


from THE DECEIVER by Livio Fanzaga:

"[The Enemy] pushes us to excell above others, to enforce our talents and strengths, . . seeking always consent, approval, and applause from others. Satan exerts himself without our awareness, to take us away from God, feeding the cult of our "selves" in the secret of our hearts." Then Livio Fanzaga writes: " . . . you are either an image of Mary or of the demon. Seek to be a living image of the very humble one, who never puts herself on display and knows how to pass through the world unknown, she who is the greatest of all creatures. Work solely for love of God, love being an ordinary person . . . You will then be a flower that Mary cultivates in this world of external appearances. Her scent will rewaken in the hearts of men nostalgia for being little and humble."


Friday, April 17, 2009

Mother Church and the innocent ones she protects

"Yes, the Church is a loving mother who has a zest for life and serves life everywhere, but she can become a protective 'mamma bear' when the life of her innocent, helpless cubs is threatened," he said - at which moment the church erupted in applause a second time.
-Archbishop Timothy Dolan during the installation Mass at New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral


Thursday, April 16, 2009

It makes no sense at all. . .

Why not get rid of all background images? Maybe it's just the Christian symbols/images that bother the President.

The President at Georgetown: Did this Catholic University Deny the Faith?
By Deacon Keith Fournier 4/17/2009

What occurred at Georgetown University is one of those symbolic moments in history which speaks beyond any single incident. The administration literally covered over the Cross of Christ and the “I.H.S.”, both of which were engraved on the backdrop against which the President spoke on the Gaston Hall stage. The reaction to this censorship of Christian signs at a Catholic University was immediate. The associate Vice President of Communications of Georgetown gave her spin: "In coordinating the logistical arrangements for yesterday's event, Georgetown honored the White House staff's request to cover all of the Georgetown University signage and symbols behind Gaston Hall stage… The White House wanted a simple backdrop of flags and pipe and drape for the speech, consistent with what they've done for other policy speeches… Frankly, the pipe and drape wasn't high enough by itself to fully cover the IHS and cross above the GU seal and it seemed most respectful to have them covered so as not to be seen out of context."


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Another "Win" for ADULT Stem Cell Research

A US-Brazilian project with 23 patients found most were able to produce their own insulin after a transplant of stem cells from their own bone marrow.

Contrast that with:

Adult stem cell research has produced 72 cures and treatments. Embryonic stem cell research and human cloning has produced “0” cures and treatments.

God Is Not A Crutch

Today's New Testament reading proves it.

God is not a crutch. He does not come to make the spiritually weak or sick ones hobble through life on spiritual crutches. He comes to make us new.

The world tells us that God is not necessary for the strong, the beautiful, the intelligent. The world believes that God is a fantasy for the weak, the ugly, and the stupid.

Easter isn't about handing a crutch to the spiritually crippled. It is about healing them. Changing them. Saying to them, rise up and walk. God has healed you. And in reality, we were all made weak through sin. For this reason, we are all in need of this healing.

We are not weak ones with crutches. We are being made new and whole. We are being sanctified day by day.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Not covered over - but CHANGED

I know when it started. I was in high school, and I was a waitress. The restaurant was a little diner in northern Iowa. The waitresses wore traditional polyester uniforms that made us look like we walked right out of the 1950s. But it was only 1980.

As Americans, we were fixated on stick-thin images of the feminine ideal that began with Twiggie and then became the standard for all female models. By 10th grade, my body had proven that I was created to be a very average size. So, I began crash dieting. Like many girls my age, I realized that deprivation only led to overeating.

I still remember the day I stood in the walk-in cooler at the diner and crammed down 5 cream-filled pastries in a matter of seconds. That's the problem with dieting. Our bodies won't let us get by with it for long.

So, I created a habit of fasting and feasting. It was a habit that would haunt me for decades - except when I was pregnant with each of my children. Pregnancy seemed to be a time of grace when I could ignore the inner voice that told me to diet, diet, diet.

As I matured as an adult, I stopped being radically obsessed with my weight. I still had issues that stemmed from bad eating habits. In fact, I woke up every morning and did a quick review of the previous day's eating. If I had done well and practiced some restraint, I was pleased with myself.

But if I had eaten a double serving of cake or cookies, I began the next day with a sense of self-loathing.

The year my youngest daughter received First Holy Communion, I gave up radical eating patterns for Lent. I just wanted to be normal for those 40 days. I love God. And I believed that I could give this to Him even if I couldn't seem to deal with it for my sake alone.

I did rather well, until my daughter's First Communion party. Just one piece of cake. It is right to celebrate such a wonderful day, I thought.

I carefully froze the rest of the cake and told myself I would enjoy it after Lent.

Before 24 hours had passed, I was pulling frozen cake from the freezer and eating it before it had a chance to thaw.

If you have read my articles in diocesan papers, you may have figured out by now that this is that thing I couldn't give up. That year, I believed I had failed Lent.

But when I went to Confession, the priest told me that Lent had done for me precisely what it was supposed to do for me. I had been led into my own grave, witnessed my own grave clothes, and realized my inability to fix myself.

If you read that article, "From Grave to Grace", then you know that I left that Sacrament forgiven but still subject to the sin of over-indulgence and subsequent self-loathing.

But somewhere in the last year, the addiction lost its hold on me.

I don't diet. I don't over-eat (although I do enjoy Holy Feast Days with a rightly-ordered perspective).

During Holy Week this year, two people asked if I had lost weight. For the first time in my life I was able to say, "A little, but I'm not dieting." For the first time in over 25 years, I'm just living. Food doesn't have a strangle-hold on me.

It's just food.

This Lent, I didn't even have to wonder if I should give God my eating patterns. God had already set things right in that area. And so, I went on to another "thing" - knowing that when I am weak, He is strong. And He who began a good work in me will surely complete it for His glory.

If you struggle with something and you know you are not rightly-ordered in some area, I encourage you to bring that difficulty to the Confessional and draw deeply from the wellspring of Sacramental graces. You can be changed no matter how many decades you have been imprisoned.

Blessed Easter!


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Promises - April Diocesan Article

My grandfather passed away when I was nine. He was an Iowa farmer, and on one December afternoon, he climbed to the top of a grain bin on the family farm. It was something he always did when the temperature was below freezing. He’d take a wrench and break the crust that formed on the top of the corn so that the drier could work more efficiently. Something went wrong that day. Whether he had a stroke and fell in or simply lost his balance, we never knew. He suffocated in the grain bin, surrounded by the year’s harvest.

I remember standing with my family at the funeral home a day or two later and seeing his body. All I could think about were the stories of Jesus raising people from the dead. I prayed, Even now, you can bring him back to us, Jesus. And I watched his lifeless body for any sign of a miracle. I really believed God could do it, too. That’s how it is when you are nine and you experience death for the first time. You expect things to be reversible. And you know nothing is impossible for the God who made everything. He could do it. He could bring Grandpa back.

But the miracle didn’t happen.

I still remember my childlike faith when a loved one passes into eternity. I still pray, You could do it, Lord. You could raise this one I love. But this prayer means something even more profound. It isn’t merely a prayer for the restoration of a physical body. It is a prayer for the eternal soul. In your mercy, I trust that you will raise this one I love.

I don’t expect my loved one to sit up and start talking to me (like I did as a child). Instead, I think of Easter promises.

It is odd – and fitting at the same time – that my grandfather died in a grain bin full of harvested corn. Our Lord told his disciples, unless a grain falls to the earth and dies, it cannot bear fruit.

If we are honest, we know that some of the greatest spiritual growth has come after the death of one we love. We understand Easter more fully when we encounter loss.

We realize more deeply that fruit comes from death. A crop is harvested so that the next one can be planted. Not just a replacement, not just having something new to take our mind off the old. No, it is life coming out of death.

We see it all around us as winter gives way to spring. We see it when we consider the Saints, and we witness their powerful intercession.

I’ve lost many family members since that December of 1973. But I think the death that revealed this reality the most was the death of our beloved John Paul II.

We forget, sometimes, that there is a promise with the death of a holy one. We sort through the harvested crop and find the good seed. With God’s help, we plant that seed, tend it, and watch it grow.

Death is swallowed up in victory.

How long has it been since you asked a loved one to intercede for you? How long has it been since you implored our beloved John Paul II to help with the new harvest? How long has it been since you knelt and said the words, even now you can raise him, Jesus. And then you went into the fields and got busy rather than sit down and dwell on the loss?

We are not meant to hold the seed in our hands and grieve forever. We are meant to get on with planting.

There are souls in need of intercession. There are saints ready to intercede. And Our Lord has promised us a great harvest.

Blessed Easter! Alleluia, Amen!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Blessed Easter


Friday, April 10, 2009

The Cross of Christ

It may not seem strange to you, but I am still getting used to it. On Good Friday, after the Liturgy of the Word, we go forward and venerate the Cross.

There aren't very many times when I still feel like a neophyte, but this night is one of them. I feel my Catholicity fully tonight.

And yet, I am glad to be part of this faith tradition. I cannot describe what it does to my soul to see each person kneel and kiss the Cross of Christ. The beautiful and youthful ones. The aged. The littlest child. My husband. My daughter. The priest. The altar servers. My friend. A student from my confirmation class.

And yes, even me.

It is a sacred moment, and as far as I know, no other faith tradition does this. It is Catholic. So very Catholic.

Then, we receive the Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

I would imagine that this is a very special night for those who suffer, and most especially those with terminal illness.

First, we venerate of the Cross and then the Eucharist comes to us on this - the night of his death.

It touches my heart to see the very infirm, canes in hand and those wheeled to the front, those without hair from chemo, or those frail from age, each one kneeling the best he or she can, to kiss the Cross.

And then a small child comes. To kiss the Lord's crucified feet.

All of us, on a journey to Easter promises, but realizing that Easter Morning only comes by way of the Cross.

It is almost too much. My heart is full, and I am blessed to be Catholic.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

President Obama, Protect Their Right to Follow Their Conscience

Medical professionals pose for a group photo before the start of press conference concerning conscience protection at the National Press Club in Washington April 8. They gathered to show their opposition to the Obama administration's proposal to rescind federal conscience protection rules for medical professionals. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)


Ban on Images - lifted

Images matter. It's difficult to ignore the evils of war when we see images of fallen soldiers returning home in caskets.

It is difficult to ignore the tragedy of child abuse when we see an image of an abused child.

It is difficult to ignore the problem of animal cruelty when we see images of abused animals.

It is difficult to ignore the intrinsic evil of abortion when we see images of aborted babies.

And maybe that is why the secular media will not "go there" although they will go everywhere but there.

More on the story about fallen heroes here:

US soldiers carry the remains of US Army Spc. Israel Candelaria Mejias of Puerto Rico, at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. The flag-draped coffin of the 28-year old soldier killed in Iraq was among the first photographed by media late Tuesday, after Defense Secretary Robert Gates lifted a longstanding ban on press coverage of the return of fallen soldiers.

AFP - Wednesday, April 8


Jesus, help me to be more like you

Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.

John 13:14,15


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Probably Just a Coincidence, but. . .

I have watched the soap opera "Guiding Light" on-and-off for decades. I don't even want to know how many hours I have frittered away watching this drivel. So, two or three years ago, I decided I was done. For awhile, I thought about the show every day around 2:00 (when it aired in my time zone). I felt like vegging in front of the television, but I managed to find something better to do with my time. Eventually, I stopped thinking about the show.

Imagine my surprise when I heard the news that this show had been cancelled. I am not saying my little sacrifice had anything to do with it, but obviously, the network was forced to cancel the show because people like me stopped tuning in.

Perhaps there is something God is prodding you to give up. Our habits do affect society, for better or worse.

NEW YORK (CNN) -- "Guiding Light" will go dark in September after 72 years and 16,000 episodes, CBS announced Wednesday.

Gina Tognoni is one of many performers who have appeared on "Guiding Light" over the years.

The daytime soap opera's declining viewership led to the decision, according to a CBS spokeswoman.


Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Child Jesus

Last night, I had a really interesting dream. There was a family eating at a table and I approached their table, where an infant of about 18 months was sitting with them. The little boy began making the Sign of the Cross over and over as he looked at me and upon seeing this, the family at the table entrusted the boy to me. I picked him up and knew that I was now responsible for helping to care for him.

Today at Mass, I saw the image of Our Lady holding the infant Jesus. I knew immediately who the boy in the dream was.

As a former Protestant, I have had difficulty feeling any degree of devotion to the Child Jesus. I have prayed to feel something, anything. The dream did that for me.

If you struggle with this devotion as well, here is something just for you. . .

The Child Jesus was adored by Church Fathers like St. Athanasius or St. Jerome. Other great worshipers of the Childhood Jesus's are St. Bernard of Chlairvaux, St. Francis of Assisi and St. Anthony of Padua. During the Baroque space it was first of all St. Teresa of Avila, who always traveled with her sculpture of the Infant Jesus during founding new convents.


Lay your lives down before him as the Hebrew people cast down the palm branches to prepare for the Messiah's entry into the city


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Share the Faith with non-Catholic friends and family

This is the first Catholic by Grace article - published in 2005 in The St. Louis Review. Since then, Catholic by Grace articles have appeared in over 26 diocesan papers in the United States.

There is such wealth in the writings of both early and recent Church fathers.
I am the daughter of a Protestant minister, a recent convert to the Catholic faith, and it saddens me that the lives of these holy men and women never reach the eyes and ears of Protestant laity. I must ask myself why these treasures are kept hidden?

The only answer is that the Protestant founders wanted to close all doors that might lead Protestant laity back to the Catholic faith. Until 24 months ago, I had never been exposed to anything written by any saint – I didn’t even know their names!

Each of us is born into a faith culture; each of us inherits a pool of theology by the lottery of birth. Protestants are taught to be faith seekers – but within the limited pool of truth in which they are born. By limited, I mean not only within the Protestant branch of Christianity, but also within the denominational splinter to which their family clings.

How can we reach Protestants who are confident that their pool of faith is complete? Specifically, how can we get them to be willing to swim for a while in the pool of Catholic faith?

If we give them a day pass to Catholic waters – through the writings of such converts to Catholicism as G.K. Chesterton, David Currie, Marcus Grodi, Scott Hahn and Cardinal John Henry Newman, among others – it is doubtful they would ever want to go back to their swimming hole. We may also suggest they read Confessions by St. Augustine as well as The Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross, writings that were especially meaningful in my conversion.

A year ago, a member of my parish invited me to accompany her to perpetual adoration. I found myself wondering what might have happened if a Catholic friend had invited me to pray in this manner years ago.

It may have broken through my Protestant self-righteousness. I might have realized that Protestants had no corner on the market in the area of prayer. Perhaps I would have questioned my own prejudice, realizing that Catholics do have a very personal relationship with the Lord.

Would I have asked myself if I was willing to give up the hour between 11 and midnight every Monday night in order to make my way to the church just to sit in the Lord’s Real Presence?

A few months later, my RCIA leader lent me a book, “Father Elijah,” by Michael D. O’Brien. It might be the best work of fiction I have ever read – no hyperbole intended. I have a master’s degree in literature, and prior to my conversion published an article on Christian fiction – of the Protestant variety. Nothing I’ve read in the past, secular or spiritual, compares with the treasure I found in Father Elijah. Consider lending it to a Protestant friend, and tell him it’s better than the Left Behind series – because it is.

An invitation to perpetual adoration and handing a Catholic book to your separated brethren might be two of the best ways to help your Protestant friend begin wading in Catholic waters. The true seeker, even though he was born into Protestantism, will naturally be drawn to the deep end of the pool of truth. He just needs to get his feet wet.

You can help.


Friday, April 3, 2009

Newt Gingrich enters the Catholic Church

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Zenit) - Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich, became Catholic on Sunday, the first of thousands that will join the Church at Easter.

The U.S. bishops' conference reported Tuesday that around 150,000 are scheduled to join the Catholic Church this Easter.

For more information, go to:

Mary, Mary, how does your garden grow?

(originally published in diocesan papers in 2006)

I have the space all picked out. It’s a little nook around back where the cellar door forms a right angle with the exterior wall of the house. That’s where I want it. My Marian Garden.

I have the clipping torn out of a magazine. The roses in the pictures are beautiful. I’ve made a mental note to order the bushes soon.

The whole thing was a joke when I was still in my college days. Dubuque is a strong Catholic town, and Mary’s little gardens were everywhere. We Protestants thought it looked like the Catholics just liked to keep Mary in a bathtub.

We simply didn’t understand. I realize now that there was a lot about Catholic theology that we didn’t understand – especially when it came to the Mother of God.

Unable to discern a difference between worship and veneration, we thought Catholics worshipped Mary. Confused by the term “Immaculate,” we thought Catholics were trying to put the Virgin Mother on the same level as the Divine Son. Unclear about the meaning of the Communion of Saints, we just didn’t understand that Mary wanted to intercede for us.

We had no idea she was Our Mother and loved us with a mother’s heart.

Some of those old prejudices make me feel ashamed, but not my misconception about a Marian garden. I just didn’t know what it was all about. I wasn’t being anti-Catholic, just a bit ignorant. I hadn’t yet fallen in love with my new Mother, and I didn’t understand the hunger to have a place set aside, somewhere beautiful just for her. I’ve always loved roses – especially white roses, but I didn’t make any connection between roses and Mary. I didn’t sense Our Mother at my side, so how could I have understood devotion to her?

With a gentleness that is so characteristic of Our Lady, she has carefully and lovingly revealed her love for me. She has shown me that devotion to her has one purpose and that is to lead me to her Son. She doesn’t eclipse the Son; she reveals the Son. She doesn’t answer my petitions to her, she asks her Son to answer them. Like changing water into wine at the wedding at Cana, Jesus Christ responds to his mother’s voice, especially when we are willing to do whatever He tells us. She teaches us to suffer and to carry our own crosses, even as she suffered when her Son died for our sins. I just didn’t understand.

Simple ignorance has been replaced by simple love. Amazing how that changes things.

So when spring comes this year, Mary will have her rose garden.

And I’ll eat a little crow.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Beloved John Paul II

John Paul II Pray for us!

In loving memory of a holy pope.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

If you are in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. . .

. . . there is an article coming April 10. See you in The Criterion. (look for "Easter Promises")


If you missed the Hagar article last month. . .

. . .it's also at Today's Catholic Woman.


Check out the women in President Obama's Administration

You have to read to believe. . .

Inquiring Minds

For diocesan readers who read "From Grave to Grace" and want to know what "it" was, I'll probably write about it later. Until then, you might find the answer in this quote from St. Ignatius of Antioch. I've kept it on my daily calendar for over a year. Praise God, I've been set free.

I have no pleasure in the food of corruption or in the delights of this life. I desire the bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David, and for drink I desire his blood, which is incorruptible love.


From Grave to Grace

Maybe there are some people who are no longer surprised by the Catholic faith. Maybe the Church Calendar has become almost as familiar as the floor plan of their home. They can pass through Lent – or any other liturgical season – like they would the halls of their house in the middle of the night and not bump into any surprises.

Maybe I just haven’t been Catholic long enough for that to be the case with me. The surprises just keep coming.

The first year I went through Lent, I made it through without too much difficulty. I think I gave up soda. It was a sacrifice, but I must admit, it didn’t seem like much of a sacrifice.

The next year, I gave up coffee. Once I adjusted to life without caffeine, it was all rather easy. The forty days came and went.

But the year after that was completely different. On Ash Wednesday of that third Lent, I decided to give God something that I had clung to for a very long time. Twenty-five years, actually. Three weeks into Lent, I completely failed.

I remember entering the confessional just before Good Friday with such a heavy heart. I felt like an absolute failure. Jesus Christ had come to earth, he had died for me, he had risen for me, and I couldn’t even keep a 40-day promise! It felt like I had flunked Lent.

And I was about to receive my report card.

Since the priest can’t talk about what happened that day, I will take it upon myself to give you a little glimpse into that moment – because it was absolutely wonderful. The priest told me that Lent had done precisely what it was supposed to do. Jesus Christ had led me into the tomb. That’s where I found my own burial clothes, the culmination of human weakness and sin. And through the priest, Our Lord was telling me that he still wanted to claim me for his own. His redemption could encompass even my most entrenched habits. His grace would be sufficient enough to overcome my weakness.

Today. Next month. And every time I turned to Christ for help.

It wasn’t about soda or my ability to lay it down. It wasn’t about caffeine or my victory over that little pleasure. It was about my insufficiency and Christ’s complete sufficiency.

It was about coming to the end of myself and finding God’s forgiveness all over again.

Here’s another amazing thing. You know that difficulty, that habit I couldn’t seem to give up? At some point in these last two years, it lost its grip on me. A surprise? Well, it was for me, but it shouldn’t have been. In Ezekiel The Lord says, “You shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and have you rise from them, O my people! I will put my spirit in you that you may live. . .” (38:13-14).

May Our Lord lead you from the grave to grace during this Lenten season, and may the renewing of our hearts and minds be a witness throughout the world. Our God turns the grave into a moment of grace.


Unlikely Convert

I am the daughter of a Presbyterian minister. I am divorced and remarried. My first husband was an associate United Methodist minister. In 1996, I married a Baptist.

There is no reason for me to turn to the Catholic Church after forty years. I love my Protestant family and their fervor for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I love my parents and felt a particular closeness to my father, the preacher. I did not marry a Catholic. Only one person in all those years even attempted to convert me, and that was back in high school.

Do I chalk it all up to the Holy Spirit and the intercession of the Saints whose writings stole my heart and delivered my soul up to the Lord? Is it simply a matter of seeking with all of one’s heart for answers to questions that needle at the soul? Yes, I suppose those are the reasons why I converted, in spite of a life trajectory that should have sent me in a completely different direction.

I think there is something more, something that worked in tandem with the Holy Spirit. I suspect there are members of the church militant and the church triumphant who hunger to see the Christian world united.

I consider those prayer warriors my spiritual parents.

I was born into a fundamentalist Wesleyan family in Oskaloosa, Iowa, a town where nearly a century before my great-great grandmother had served as a Quaker minister.

Everyone I knew during my formative years was Protestant. In the early 1970s, we moved from rural Cedar Rapids to Cedar Falls. My new elementary school was across the street from a Catholic elementary. I don’t know why, but I was curious about what went on there. I wanted to go to that school, to have a nun for a teacher, to wear the uniforms, and to learn more about Jesus.

When my grandfather died, our family moved to northern Iowa. My dad stepped away from pastoral ministry for a year to help my grandmother dismantle the farm. At the end of that year, Dad accepted the invitation to pastor two Presbyterian churches. I spent the years from fifth grade through eleventh grade attending Riceville Community High School. It was during my last year at that school that a friend practiced personal apologetics on me. He wasn’t successful, but it was a start.

Years later, my first husband enrolled in seminary at the University of Dubuque. The year was 1989, and I became enamored by Mother Angelica who appeared on this new Catholic television network called EWTN. Again, a seed was planted. I completed my undergraduate degree at the Presbyterian school in Dubuque and took a position teaching Spanish at a local Catholic high school. Beckman High School in Dyersville. I did not convert even then, but it was at that school that a group of Catholic freshmen stole my heart, and the religion teacher and I developed a close, lasting friendship.

At Beckman High School, Brother Roger answered many of my questions about the school-wide Masses. He brought meaning to some of the rituals that confused me. Father Dennis Cain also touched my heart. He always had a smile and kind word. Father Gabriel Anderson captured the enthusiasm of the young people and proved that one could be young, attractive, religious, and happy. Sister Mary Clare Miller was a saint-in-the-making. At Beckman, many more seeds were planted, although they would remain dormant for years.

In December of 2003, my father passed away after a long illness. I began a quest for answers to suffering that could be answered only in Catholic teaching, explained for me through the writings of St. John of the Cross. This little spiritual plant began to grow.

In many ways, I feel like the spiritual offspring of St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila, whose writings broke through walls I didn’t even know existed. But I sense that I may have spiritual parents here on earth, too.

Whose prayers watered the seed? Whose prayers ensured that the seeds were not planted in vain? Whose prayers caused a fire to kindle within me that burns even now and will not permit me to remain silent on the issue of unity in Jesus Christ and the Truth I have found in the Catholic Church?

I am so grateful to that faithful group that helped to bring me joy in the midst of grief. Their prayers have helped open a door to a place I could not have found on my own, a place that holds the fullness of faith. They have silently prayed for something they would never see fulfilled this side of heaven. That is faith.

I will always be grateful to those anonymous laborers who are down on their knees. And now I join them.