Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Love Note to Self #3

A Christian knows when it is time to speak of God and when it is better to say nothing and to let love alone speak -Pope Benedict XVI

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Love Note to Self #2

"It is our vocation . . . to set people's hearts ablaze, to do what the Son of God did, to set it aflame with his love. It is not enough for me to love God if my neighbor does not love him. I must love my neighbor as the image of God and the object of his love . . . for the love of God who loved them so much that he delivered up his own Son to death for them."

- a prayer of St. Vincent de Paul

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Spreading the Gospel to Every Nation - the Catholic Church has done it!

Jesus said, Go ye, therefore, into every nation, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Now for the report card. Has the Catholic Church done this. The answer is YES. Here is a great website. It lists the continents. Click on one and you will see an alphabetical listing of the nations and the dioceses within that nation.


Does that mean we can rest now? Does that mean that the work is done and now we can sit back and wait for Jesus to come again?

No. Absolutely not. Now is the time to pray for more workers to go into the fields.

Today, pray that more people will answer the call and follow their vocation to serve.

Lord, raise up workers to go into the fields that are already being harvested. There is so much to do, and the laborers are still too few.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Holy Father's Visit to England: through the eyes of a recent convert

Gillian Alborough entered the Catholic Church at Easter Vigil 2010. I was blessed to share in her journey as her email/penpal through the Coming Home Network Int'l program of converts helping converts.

Here is a portion of the email, reprinted with her permission:

We had a good trip down to Birmingham (although a very early start – we had to be at St Mary’s at 4.10am.) We prayed the Rosary in the coach together. It was a long walk from the coachpark to the park - and it was raining) but we talked and chatted as we walked along.

When we got to the park we found ourselves places on the hillside.

There was a second stage where there was singing and reading whilst we waited. There was such a sense of anticipation. Gradually the rain cleared.

When the Holy Father arrived, there was quiet and reverence - there was such a peace over the whole place. We were outside - I thought it would be like a picnic - but it was as if we were in a cathedral. Everyone fully participating in the Mass.

I felt that although there were 65000 people there - he was there for me. An individual thing. He is our shepherd and he cares about each of us – from the little baby he opened the window for and kissed - to the eldest person there.

The Mass was beautiful and I just felt I belonged. I felt I received Holy Communion from his hand - well from the hand of a Priest in his place. I am so very glad I am a Catholic.

The Diocese of Birmingham put on a magnificent Mass (I hope you managed to see some of it on EWTN) and everything was very well organised. The altar and the backdrops were beautiful. The chair that the Holy Father sat on had the insignia of Henry John Newman. They also made sure our basic needs were met with sufficient toilets and food outlets.

The walk back to the coach was tiring - it seemed even longer than the one going - mainly because by that time my feet were sore. That is what a pilgrimage is all about - going - attending and receiving and then returning home - to share the blessing with everyone.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Love Note to Self #1

"He who wears the easy yoke and light burden of love will escape the intolerable weight of his own self-will." -St. Bernard of Clairvaux


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

When God Talks, the soul listens...

It started about two weeks ago . . . this desire to learn more about how God loves His little ones. The challenge "to love others as I have loved you" is a tough one. It's a lesson that doesn't come in a great and mighty way. You don't wake up one day and say, "Oh, I've got it."

You learn - and as you learn, you realize that you just don't know anything about the most important thing there is to learn.


God's kind of love. The kind of love that dies to self. Not in some foreign country or in the Colosseum, necessarily. But the kind of love that dies to self minute-by-minute over the course of a lifetime. That kind of love.

So, I started praying for help in this leg of the journey. I've been bringing it to daily Mass. As I receive the Eucharist, I ask for a little help. Teach me, Lord, to have a charitable heart.

And a couple of days ago, I had this desire to pick up a book by a saint. Read a bio. But I've read everything on my shelves already. I googled the phrase "great saint bio" and a few things popped up. I  read something about St. Catherine of Siena. Okay, that looks kind of good. Maybe I'll look for a book about her.

I stopped by the parish office today after Mass. The RCIA leader was there and I asked him to recommend something from the parish library. "Have you ever read anything about St. Catherine of Siena?" he says. I laugh and go to the library and find the book.

There are  three on the shelf. Okay, God, which one did you have in mind? I pick one up.

And I read the first paragraph. "The soul...begins by exercising herself...to know better the goodness of  God towards her. This she does because knowledge must precede love, and only when she has attained love, can she strive to follow and to clothe herself with the truth.... The soul...follows the footprints of Christ Crucified and thus, by desire and affection, and union of love, makes her another Himself."

That kind of affirmation is grace. It's the moment that our soul says to our heart, yes, you are hearing Him speak. And now, it's time to focus in this direction and Learn.

I love it when that happens.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My Big Mistake

At Mass this morning, Father quoted Shakespeare's Othello, saying:

"Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls.
Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing
'Twas mine,'tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed."

When we mess with someone's good name, we steal from them something that is precious. What's in a name (Romeo and Juliet)? In a word: Everything.

I don't know about you, but my name has been said with a note of derision on occasion. And it's true that it would have been far less painful for that person to steal earthly possessions from me than to steal my good name.

At Mass today, I thought about this for just a moment, and then, I thought about someone else. Jesus was not the only one who suffered by having His name slandered. He was mocked, called the King of the Jews, even as He hung from a cross.

No, I did not steal His good name. But there is one dear to Him whose good name I have stolen.

She was called the most blessed among women - according to the words of Sacred Scripture. All generations would call her blessed, the Bible tells us.

But I have been among those who stole her good name, making her to be something far less than she truly is. I have been among the ranks of those who remade her into someone-who-should-not-be-called-blessed-among-women, someone who should not be blessed-by-every-generation.

When I was a Protestant, I stole the good name of Mary. Even as I praised the name of Jesus, I reduced His mother to something very small, something almost non-existent.

In my defense, I thought that honoring Mary would somehow lessen my gift-of-self to Jesus. I was wrong. On so many levels, I  was wrong.

Is there any doubt that the Perfect Son honored His mother?

Who am I to relegate this one who is called blessed-among-women to the status of something else? Who am I to purge her name completely from my lips?

I have stolen her good name. I have blotted it out.

No more.

Hail Mary,
full of grace,
the Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women
and blessed is the fruit of your womb


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Good News & Bad News

Well, dear friends, I have some good news and  some bad news. The bad news is that I will need to take about two weeks off. I plan to return to blog writing on or before October 1st.

The good news is that I sent a proposal to a publisher, and after reviewing the submission, they want to see the full manuscript. It's not the same thing as a contract. But it's good news. It's very good news.

The manuscript is written, but only 1/2 of it is edited. So, I'm deep in subject/verb agreements and its/it's and their/they're/there and syntax and semantics and pronoun/antecedent agreement searches. So I will see you when the editing is finished.

Until 10/1/10,


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Nicknames & Childish Games

In the 1970s, my parents took us on family vacations to the Black Hills in South Dakota to visit my mother’s favorite sibling who lived near Rapid City. It was the highlight of every summer. My sister and I were in cousin heaven. Deenie was slightly older than my sister and Carrie was slightly younger.

Chrissy was slightly older than I was and Jojo was slightly younger.

It just doesn’t get better than that.

Our mothers piled the six of us in a station wagon and took us to Mount Rushmore and Wall Drug and Deadwood and Bear Butte and Reptile Gardens and Storybook Island and Devil’s Tower. The trips were endless. And they were beyond wonderful. Our mothers had one another to pass the hours in the car, and the cousins had each other.

When I was in third grade, we made our usual trip to Newell, South Dakota, and visited the cousins. That was the infamous year of name changes. When we arrived, we discovered that Deenie would never be Deenie again. She was now called Nadine. Carrie had become Carol. Chrissy was now Mary (her middle name was Christine), and dear little Jojo had even grown up and taken on the name Joanne.

It meant that they had put away childish things – and names. They had grown into their names. And all of us recognized that change by respectfully calling them by new titles. And I have to tell you, it wasn’t easy. In fact, I found it difficult. I wanted to call them by the names I had always known. Especially Jojo. Little Jojo. Her name change seemed to signify the end of something very special. The end of early childhood and carefree days.

But their mother did the right thing. It was time for the girls to take on their new identities, to begin the process of becoming young ladies.

It was time to put away childish things and childish names.

And there are times when Mother Church reminds us of our new names. Our Confirmation names. And Mother Church gently nudges us by calling us by this new name. It’s time to grow into your name, my dear. You are called to be saints.

So put away your childish things.


Father Abraham had many sons...many sons had Father Abraham (and Peter did as well)

Today, I'm thinking about the parallels between Old Testament figure Abraham and New Testament figure Peter.

Both were called to leave everything and to follow a promise.

Both were asked to lead the way for those who would come after them.

Both of them were given new names. Abram ("exalted father") became Abraham ("father of nations"). Simon ("he has heard") became Peter ("the rock").

Both stand at the beginning of a new work. When the Hebrew people identified their God, they called that God the God of Abraham (1st), Isaac (2nd), and Jacob (3rd). The people of the New Covenant know that their faith was received first by Peter, then Linus, Anacletus, Clement and so on until Pope Benedict XVI (Papal List).

In the Old Testament, Abraham is recognized as father Abraham. In the New Testament, Simon is raised to the Seat of Peter and becomes Papa, the first Pope, or father. In the Gospels, Peter is always listed first when the disciples are named. Incidentally, Judas Iscariot (who betrayed Jesus) is always listed last.

So today, as I'm thinking about the similarities between these two biblical figures, who stand at the beginning of a great work of God, and who were given a new name that recognized their new position in the plan of Salvation . . . I am thinking of Pope Benedict XVI.

Our Papa. Our Father. The one who leads the way for those of us who remain. And I encourage you to begin a Novena today, like many of the faithful, for the Holy Father's visit to the UK.

From the Magnificat booklet:

God of truth and love, your Son, Jesus Christ, stands as the light to all who seek you with a sincere heart.

As we strive with your grace to be faithful in word and deed, may we reflect the kindly light of Christ and offer a witness of hope and peace to all.

We pray for Pope Benedict and look forward with joy to his forthcoming visit to our countries. May he be a witness to the unity and hope which is your will for all people.

We make our prayer through Christ our Lord.


Our Lady, Mother of the Church pray for us.
St Andrew pray for us.
St George pray for us.
St David pray for us.

(This Novena is posted on the Catholic Herald (UK) website as well.)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Faith Without Works is Dead

The Labor Day weekend is coming to a close. We were blessed to be with many family members this weekend.

For safety and for good fellowship, we thank and praise God.

Now, as I'm sitting in my living room, company gone, daughter off to bed, and husband showering and shutting things down for the night, I find myself praying for the grace to "get back at it all" tomorrow. The eating healthier. The daily Mass. The writing life. The mothering. The housecleaning.

While we need a break from it all, time to recuperate and regenerate, we also need to be ready to return to work.

Even if you're like me and you love what you do, it can sometimes be difficult to get back at it, giving it all we have to give it, fully-focused, and ready to shine in our little part of the world . . . once the parties are over and the goodbyes are said.

So, tonight, I pray for sufficient grace to get back at it tomorrow, without missing a beat.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Swimming Lessons and Spiritual Lessons

My mother was always terrified when she was in waist-high water. She did not want her children to struggle with this phobia, so she signed us up for swimming lessons.

That first encounter with the water was not a positive one. We spent a week in the shallow end of the pool, trying to learn how to back float and face float. My back was sunburned so bad that it blistered and I couldn't stand to have anything touch it - not even a light-weight bed sheet. At week's end, My sister and I could barely keep our heads under water, let alone abandon ourselves to the buoyancy of water. On Friday, the instructors tested us to see if we could graduate to the next level. "You have to jump off the diving board and make it to the side of the pool." Excuse me? You want me to jump into the deep end, even though we haven't been in that end of the pool once this week, and somehow, I'm supposed to get myself from the point of entry beneath the diving board to the side of the pool? I barely know how to stay afloat! No thanks."

I didn't graduate.

The following year, Mom tried private lessons. We began in the shallow end. We learned how to float and how to do the elementary backstroke and the crawl. Our instructor slowly moved us closer to the deep end, then closer to the scary diving board. As our confidence grew, the fear subsided. We knew we could make it from one side of the pool to the other, and it didn't matter if we were in the shallow end or the deep end. The strokes worked no matter what. That's when the instructor had us push off the side of the pool and tread water - for just a few minutes at first, then for up to fifteen minutes. Eventually, we learned to tread water without the use of our hands. She made us raise our hands out of the water while we moved our feet furiously. Even then, we didn't drown. Next, she had us jump in the water fully dressed, simulating what happens when a boat capsizes. We had to kick off our shoes and take off our pants and t-shirts while remaining in ten-feet of water. Only when we were stripped down to our swimming suits, were we permitted to swim back to the side of the pool.

That's when she introduced us to the diving board. The deep end of the pool was no longer intimidating, even from this perspective. I stepped off the end of the board, confident that all would be well. I wasn't going to drown.

Jesus talked in parables and figurative language quite often. His illustrations ranged from agrarian imagery to sea references. Today, I'm thinking of the words in the Gospel according to St. Luke. Cast out into the deep.

If you never cast a net, this would be challenging. If you had never been in deep waters, this could be terrifying. But if you had done these things over and over again, you would gracefully pick up the net and heave it into the sea.

Jesus is using this as a metaphor for catching souls. If you have never talked about your faith to anyone outside of church, this is a really scary command. You want me to do what? You want me to say that to them? Are you kidding me? They don't even know I'm a Christian. Well, they probably know that I'm Christian - but they certainly don't know I'm that kind of Christian. They'll think I'm crazy.

The fishermen knew how to cast into deep waters. They had done it many times. At the Lord's command, they did it once again. And their nets were filled. The catch that day was better than they had ever seen.

Go ahead, cast into the deep. Share the good news of Jesus Christ with someone. If you are afraid, that simply means you haven't done it enough in the past. No one is expecting you to jump from the kiddie pool into the deep waters. But you are being asked to try to learn by doing. By trying. By repeating these efforts over and over until the deep is no longer intimidating.

Go ahead, cast your nets. See the abundance of the Lord. For He has made you fishers of souls.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

St. Anna the Prophetess

St. Anna the Prophetess

In light of the fact my day began with a really strange dream and uncertainty about what it means (if anything), I think I will highlight St. Anna the Prophetess.