Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Where to Find Hope When Hope Is Fading

There is something hope-filled in the knowledge that Jesus has sustained His Church especially in difficult times because that means He will sustain me if I remain in Him.
If I pursue holiness, seek truth, stay small, keep my life in Christ protected, nourished, and whole – I can hope in eternal life.
This is not empty hope. It is the kind of hope that waits for Easter’s resurrection morning. It is the kind of hope that buries a loved one and believes more conversations and hugs and precious moments may again be theirs. It is the kind of hope that waits on the mercy of the One who made us and loves us. It is the kind of hope that grows with our spiritual growth - or fades when we fail.
We do not walk through this life oblivious to the things of God. We are deliberate and purposeful in living the life of faith. The Sacramental life of the Church and the Liturgical Calendar bear this out. There can be no muddling through to the finish line. We cannot check out of the race. We cannot turn around and walk in the wrong direction.
We are deliberate and purposeful in the faith journey.
Now – in this season of Lent – the days can seem so long. Sometimes, I wonder if I can be strong in fulfilling my Lenten promises.
At times, life is so very difficult.
But, praise God, it is possible to not only get through, but to finish well.
If you are feeling particularly discouraged, get up, go to confession, relish the goodness of the Eucharist which you now receive with a clean heart, and complete the journey to Holy Week.


One Body in Christ.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Catholic Writers: be like St. Therese, not Garry Wills

Recently, I saw the famous clip of Garry Wills on The Colbert Report. I am angry. How can someone claim to be Catholic and simultaneously condemn the very Source and Summit of the Catholic Faith?

Wills twists the words of St. Augustine.

He tramples on the dignity of the priesthood.

He mocks at least three Sacraments.

And he does it all with a smugness and arrogance that stands in stark contrast to the demeanor of every practicing Catholic I know.

What went wrong with this guy?

Every gift God has given can be reordered for self-gain. I think a lot of it is a desire to spin out one more book... to have one more best seller. And trashing the Catholic Church has proven to be a money-maker for a lot of people. Congratulations, Mr. Wills. It appears you have joined the ranks of the Judas team. A few silver coins in exchange for the Body and the Blood of Jesus Christ.

Even Pulitzer Prize winners can get greedy. Perhaps, especially Pulitizer Prize winners.

Writing - and especially getting things published/recognized/rewarded - can become an addiction. We can sacrifice everything at the feet of our addiction. Or we can sacrifice everything at the feet of Our God.

The writing saints offered everything to God. St. Therese didn't really want to write her story. She did it out of obedience. St. Thomas Aquinas ended his life saying that everything he had written was straw in comparison to the reality and glory of God. Others wrote, not to be published, but to call out heresy and wrestle it to the ground. Some simply wanted to capture their journeys through conversion. Most never saw their work published or disseminated publicly.

They all have some things in common.

  • They loved God above all things.
  • They held to Church Teaching tenaciously.
  • They humbly submitted their talents and gifts to God.
  • They did not intend to make money at writing. That's not what it was about.
  • They believed in the Real Presence.
  • They remained steadfast in their love for the priesthood.
  • They spoke reverently of the Seat of Peter and treasured every moral and theological teaching that came to them through this one who was promised the gift of infallibility through the Power of the Holy Spirit.
  • They stayed little.
  • They were not arrogant, haughty, or proud.
  • They did not presume to know more about God and His teachings than the Saints and Teaching Magisterium of 2000 years.
  • They did not seek accolades - ever.
  • They only wanted to fulfill the calling, to offer the gift, to convert souls - for the glory of God.

Mr. Wills could learn much from them.

I write. And I worry about the pitfalls that are out there for Catholic writers and speakers. It's easy to get off track. There is nothing - nothing - worth more than eternity with God.

It's better to close the laptop. Put down the pen. Delete the editor contact list. Forget you have a degree in anything.

And to gain eternity.

I don't know what God has in mind for me as a writer, but I know He has Heaven in mind for me.

Here is the prayer for every Catholic writer, speaker, and worker who has an audience of five or five hundred thousand. It will keep things in proper perspective. It might lead you to salvation. My RCIA leader passed it on to me a couple of years ago. And now, I offer it to you.

Blessings on the writing. Be willing to walk away from it at any time.

Litany of Humility

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed, deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being loved, deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled, deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being honored, deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being praised, deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others, deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted, deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated, deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being despised, deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes, deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated, deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten, deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed, deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged, deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected, deliver me, O Jesus.
That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided that I become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
-Cardinal Raphael Merry Del Val



Friday, February 22, 2013

Unity in the Chair of Peter: One of the first articles I wrote as a Catholic

(Reposted from 2009--first run at One Bread in 2005)

I used to wonder why so many pages of the Old Testament were dedicated to the lineage of the Fathers of Israel. Why was it a good use of space – all those pages dedicated to tracking genealogy, all those lists of how this one begot that one? Even the New Testament starts out that way:

Here it is, folks. Before we tell you about the Messiah, let’s get the record straight. First there was Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and Judah, and Perez, and Hezron and on and on. Then David, that’s right, King David. And Solomon, and on, and on. Fourteen generations from Abraham to David and fourteen from David to the Babylonian Exile, and fourteen more and there He is. Jesus, the Son of the Living God. God keeps His promise to Israel!

Doesn’t it seem like a waste of paper? Why not have a few more uplifting verses in there instead? Why not describe the early years of our Lord’s life instead of giving us the Family Tree?

And then it begins to make sense. The clear line of succession, the evidence of the Plan – all of it – every single human link to Christ matters.

Then Jesus Christ is born in Bethlehem, dies on a cross, rises from the dead, and ascends into heaven. And the rest of Salvation History is one great muddle.

Or is it?

For a God who loves the details, shouldn’t there be a continuation of leadership? A new list of Fathers? Shouldn’t there be a new lineage, a clearly defined succession of holy men (and some not-so-holy individuals, too, just like the Old Testament lineage), and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself as the One to connect the Old and the New? If the Old Testament prepares for the Messiah’s birth by preserving the lineage, and the New Testament announces the Messiah’s birth by reviewing the lineage, what would logically come next?

Then, Jesus proclaims, “I say you are Peter and on this Rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” Clearly, Jesus is declaring a new lineage. He’s specifically announcing the beginning of a list of those who will prepare for His return by preserving the message of Jesus Christ and passing it on to each generation.

Maybe you’ve never seen the list of Holy Fathers. If you’re like me, you didn’t know there is one. And if there is one, you’re not so sure you should care. But you should care. It proves that Jesus Christ cares about His Church. He breathed on Her, and carefully placed Her in the hands of Peter, and She grew.

Every generation has had Peter, this Vicar of Christ on earth. There could be no other way to preserve the Church. Our God is in the details. When they killed St. Peter, they did not kill the Church. Another took the Seat of Peter. And another and another.

And the list remains to this day.

Our Lord knew that the only way the Church could stay the course is if She had someone at the helm. And the only way to preserve Truth is if the Spirit of Truth leads that man. I will send you a Helper. The Holy Spirit, who will lead you into all Truth. Whatever you bind on earth is bound in heaven. Whatever you loose on earth is loosed in heaven. You are Peter, and upon this Rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

So many verses from my childhood came back to me and swirled around in my head, and when the dust settled, an image began to emerge.

Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would lead us into all Truth. How could I explain so many versions of truth, so many people claiming to have been inspired by the same Holy Spirit – but in total disagreement with each other? Either Jesus lied and the Holy Spirit never came – or it happened just as Jesus said it would. And someone was still holding the keys.

The Deposit of Truth is entrusted to the Seat of Peter, and it is preserved through a clear line of Apostolic Succession. The Holy Spirit guarantees it.

I found myself saying, of course it makes sense. It makes perfect sense.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

7th Grade Exponents and The Blessed Trinity

(reposted from June 2010)

I woke up this morning and remembered a dream I'd had just before waking. In the dream, Jesus was telling me that one great way to understand the Blessed Trinity is one-to-the-third-power. 1 times 1 times 1 is still ONE.

I like that.

It kind of makes sense.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

My Greatest Love

This is my metaphor describing what it was like to discover the Eucharist as an Evangelical Protestant.

Suppose a girl has a pen pal - for years. The girl and the boy converse daily even - sometimes more often than that. Letters. Emails. Facebook messages. Facetime. Texting. They come to love each other deeply and know how one another thinks. The girl becomes a young woman, and the two even get engaged and know that one day, when they are finally together, they will be married. For now, they are content. But then, the young woman discovers something amazing.

She realizes that the pen pal she loves so dearly LIVES RIGHT DOWN THE STREET. He has been there all along - physically, truly, really. And all she had to do all of these years is walk down that sidewalk and up those steps, knock on that door and go into His room.

And He has been longing for this from the very beginning. He has always longed for her - to come to Him so that He could be one with her - in every way.

I have loved Jesus Christ since I was eight years old. I have prayed and read the Bible and listened to Christian music and had times I felt very close to Him and times when I didn't.

But when I became Catholic, I realized that this Jesus I have loved most of my life is truly right down the street! And I can go to Him and be in His Presence - His Real Presence - whenever I want!

This is not something you keep quiet. This is something you must share.

When you see people who are in that same spot... longing for their Lord - you want to tell them that this One they love is right here.

Sure, you can keep emailing and Facebooking and Facetiming. You won't lose any of that closeness. But, don't you want to really be with Him?

Let Him touch you. Find that most intimate relationship of all. Open your hand to Him. Open your mouth. Your entire being to Him...

Of course, you do.

This is not a new teaching.

This Truth is as old as the Church itself. Older.

For it began with the Last Supper. Was foreshadowed in the Old Testament. Proclaimed and predicted by Jesus Christ in the Gospel of John chapter 6. Written about in the first and second centuries and every century since then.

You love Jesus.

Isn't it time to enter the very room in which He waits for you?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Mark 16 and Healing Ministry of the Church

This Lent, I am praying for three people who need healing. I am also interceding for my family members who need healing, but there are three others who are not related to me. They have each asked for prayers, and I have promised to pray.

Recently, I have witnessed God's amazing desire to answer prayer. I know that there are times when He chooses to answer our prayers in ways we don't expect - and even in ways we do not wish. But He always answers prayers in ways that are completely compatible with His Divine Will.

This is why I pray with confidence, joy, and hope...

When I receive the Eucharist, I place my petitions before Jesus Christ Himself. I know He is the Bread I receive. No metaphor.

It is Christ.

I know He is the Wine I receive. No Metaphor.

It is Christ.

And Jesus comes to me literally from the hands of one who has been commissioned through the laying on of hands by another and that one is in direct line with the 11 Apostles. The Bishop. And the Bishop comes to us through the laying on of hands by another and that one is in direct line of St. Peter. The Pope.

The line is real. It is historical. It is in black and white. Google "papal list" if you don't believe me.

And so, I can pray, and I cling to the words in the Gospel of St. Mark.

It is true that God works miracles even when we pray outside of the circle of apostolic succession. God is God. He is not bound by any one rubric.

BUT, He has promised to work through His Apostles, as we see in Mark 16. Through Jesus Christ, we have an apostolic faith in which we may choose to believe and be baptized. It is this faith, and not some hybrid of it that we are called to believe in. All waters of baptism flow from this one source - Jesus Christ and His Church that was founded upon the 11.

The Commissioning of the Eleven.
14h [But] later, as the eleven were at table, he appeared to them and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart because they had not believed those who saw him after he had been raised.15 He said to them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages.18They will pick up serpents [with their hands], and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”j


Saturday, February 16, 2013

How Is Lent Going for You?

I'm still trying to sell things on ebay. I've listed five times. Only one has had any bidders at all.

Small yield, but it's a start.

I also gathered all of our change and redeemed it for dollars.

Far greater yield.

These are just my more creative approaches to Lent. I'll keep my serious ones to myself. But I like the idea of trying new things and throwing open the doors to new possibilities.

Each Lent should touch new places, clean out corners that haven't yet been cleaned.

Oh, and about that one item that has yielded my first ebay bid... I tossed it in the trash. I went back a few minutes later and retrieved it. That's when I decided to put it up on ebay.

Kind of like our souls on Ash Wednesday. Trashed. Only to be retrieved and sold to the highest bidder.

Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ, King of Endless Glory!

Friday, February 15, 2013

A family born from trauma - The Arlington Catholic Herald

Great story. A beautiful tribute to those who choose life.

A family born from trauma - The Arlington Catholic Herald

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sins of Valentine's Past; Joys of Valentine's Present

I'm reading Matthew Kelly's book The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic. I highly recommend it, and will probably write more about the four signs as I go further into the book.

One of the things that caught my attention was a brief comment near the beginning of the book. After establishing the fact that about 7% of the overall Catholic population is engaged in the larger portion of Church's work, Matthew Kelly made a side comment, saying that the other 93% sometimes feel left out or sidelined by the doers (the 7%). That 93% is also frustrated because the dynamic Catholics (the 7%) tend to forget what great sinners they once were and treat others (the 93%) as second class citizens who need to just get with the program.

In that moment, a whole lot of past sin flashed before me.

And in that moment, I felt great compassion for the 93%.

It matters very little what I do or say to inspire those who are already inspired. My faithful witness probably doesn't make a bit of difference to those who are already "Dynamically Engaged" Catholics.

In the moment that the memory of my past sins filled my mind, I wanted to lay it all once again at the feet of Jesus in a state of total self-loathing and plead for mercy. But then, I imagined what would happen next. Jesus already removed those sins - though I still remember them very well. When I left them in the confessional eight years ago, they were swallowed up by divine mercy. PRAISE GOD!

And isn't that the reality we hope to share? Isn't that our goal - not to overwhelm or intimidate them with our personal holiness.

Joy should motivate us to share the good news of the Gospel.

Follow me to the Source of forgiveness, not because I am so holy, but because I have been forgiven much and that is a reason to live each day joyfully!

This may seem like an odd post for St. Valentine's Day, but it's not really. Most of my worst sins were the result of the desire to be loved. I gave away a lot of myself - as so many young women do. And I it was a major part of many a' Valentine's Day.

So, even though this day is completely rooted in Catholicism, our world has screwed up the holiday so much that many people will be doing some pretty terrible things today - all in the name of love.

My heart goes out to them. I understand them more than they know.

It would be difficult to top my list of sins committed in the name of love. And it would be difficult to sink as low as I did as a result of those choices.

Only one love satisfies completely. It is the greatest love affair of all time. Jesus Christ loves sinners. He loves them to the point of death - even death on a cross.

Happy Valentines Day!
Blessed Lent!

P.S. My husband gave me the book for Valentine's Day. Hon, you know my heart. What a great gift! Love you. - me

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lentil Soup and Lenten Thoughts

I've never been great at fasting. And my mind wanders when I pray. I have great intentions about giving to the poor. But sometimes I don't even follow through on that.

I need the help of the Church....

I need the great movement of the Body of Christ behind me and with me and in front of me when I enter Lent.

...because I'm pretty weak.

I've been thinking about Esau today - not the typical Old Testament character that comes to mind on the first day of Lent.  I keep thinking about Esau's weakness. He sold his birthright for a bowl of soup. (We eat a lot of lentil soup around our house during Lent, so maybe that's what triggered my memory.) Anyway, Esau was willing to give up what was his for a short-lived answer to a temporal need.

As Catholics, we have a birthright. From the moment of our baptism, we belong to God. We can choose to hang on to that birthright, or we can sell it for a short-lived filling of a temporal need.

It's the greatest weakness of American Catholics.

I want ABC so I will compromise on XYZ.

We choose our lentil soup over the birthright.

Artificial contraception.
In vitro fertilization.
Gay lifestyle.

Maybe that "soup" doesn't tempt you.


Still not your choice of soup?


We are all like Esau when we exchange a momentary thrill for the eternal reward. We are all like Esau when we choose evil - or even that which is merely banal - at the expense of the divine.

On days like today, Ash Wednesday, we learn how to choose well. There will be no selling out for a measly bowl of soup - or even an enticing lifestyle with its momentary thrills.

Nothing is worth more than this birthright.


For we are dust, and to dust we will return. But what is eternal will last forever. Lentil soup? Not so much.

Lenten renewal? Absolutely

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Many People Watching... kind of intimidating.

Many people watching. May they see Jesus Christ in me when they stop and take a look. AMDG.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Creative Lenten Idea #1

I've never sold anything on Ebay. I hope to change that. I'd like to see what happens when I offer up some of my excess stuff (that's actually still worth something) and funnel it through Ebay.

I figured out how to upload something on Ebay. The auction will end on Ash Wednesday - just in time for me to generate a little money for the poor.

I think I just might try to post one item each day.

If you have a creative Lenten idea, please post it in the comment box. I'd love to hear your ideas.

When One Simply Cannot Go On

I love our Holy Father. I love him because he has led the Church well. I also love him because he seeks what is best for the Church regardless of what the gossip mill might do with his decisions.

Today's announcement came as a surprise, but it didn't shatter my world.

I suppose that is because I, too, resigned recently. And there were a couple of people who made sure I knew that my decision to resign was akin to breaking a covenant. They felt I had dropped the ball and needed to remember my commitments.

Of course, I'm not 85. But I'm not the spiritual giant that Pope Benedict is. I'm pretty darn frail - spiritually speaking. And the family crisis was pretty bad.

I resigned the day before my granddaughter's MRI. We were told by the neurological staff that Eliana (my son's baby) would have brain damage and that she might also be paralyzed or have cerebral palsy. That was the first reason for resigning.

I also resigned because my daughter had just announced that she was pregnant with her third child - and that she would be raising this baby on her own. She lives nearby and her toddlers are with us quite often. She is a single parent. We pick up pieces the very best that we can.

Four grandbabies in crisis.

Two children - a son and a daughter - in crisis.

And let's be honest. I was in a crisis of my own.

I had just spent half of a year preparing to move to Seattle - away from these children and grandchildren. In fact, those plans had changed just weeks before these two life-altering events occured.

I felt like I was coming unglued.

I knew that it would be best for the students if I stepped down. I knew that I could not possibly continue to give my teaching position 60-70 hours each week as I had done in the past.

I also knew that I needed to get really close to God, or I would not be good to anyone.

Sometimes, I'm still overwhelmed when I think about how close I came to total burn-out.

I was not breaking covenant. I was upholding the ultimate covenant I had with God and with my family.

I was not looking for a reason to quit. I was grabbing for the last bit of sanity I felt I had left.

My husband John.
My vocation as a wife, mother, and grandmother.

I needed to lean into these things with everything I had.
And so, I resigned.

I'm thankful that my students had a wonderful teacher just waiting to step into that classroom and pick up the pieces. I still believe that she was a gift from God.

And so, today, as we ponder the news that our beloved Pope Benedict XVI is resigning, I find myself being very thankful because he has given witness to the very things I have felt for weeks.

"One can resign at a peaceful moment or when one simply cannot go on." That is what I read in the online article from my own Archdiocesan website.

Sometimes, one simply cannot go on.

And when one loves those in his charge, he lets the crowd gossip. But he still does what he knows he must do.

Thank you, Holy Father. You are a true Shepherd. You care for the flock.

And you will remain in my prayers!

The Music Montage: it will take you to NICU where God worked a miracle.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

I Already Miss It

I already miss it.

I had already started thinking about how much I'm going to miss certain foods and little indulgences here and there. Snacking. Unlimited beverages. Eating out too much.

I had already started thinking about praying a daily Rosary. Going to daily Mass. Truly trying to pray all day long - without ceasing - no matter what else is going on.

I had already started imagining how we could give more, what to put the money toward, how to keep giving though I resigned from teaching recently, and our income just took a big hit.

I had already started thinking about Lent - though it doesn't start for a few days.

But I hadn't thought about the Alleluia. I hadn't thought about how much I love saying the word - singing the word - proclaiming it with the entire Body of Christ every Sunday.

The word was everywhere in Mass today. And right in the middle of Mass, it hit me... The Alleluia is everywhere today because it's about to be put away. We are being given one more chance to live this word, love this word, linger awhile longer with this word.

I blinked back tears. I'm like that. Kind of emotional at times. Especially when I'm taken off-guard by Jesus Christ - or by His beautiful, holy, universal, enduring Church.

I think I'm going to miss the Alleluia the most.

It will be okay. The great Alleluia will be ours again. We can put it aside. Together, we can tuck it away - along with the snacks and beverages and excesses of life. Together, we can fill those spaces with Christ crucified.

One Body.

One Mind.

One Heart.

The grace of these 40 days always takes me by surprise. What I could never do alone, I am able to do when I get to do it with the entire Church. Isn't that about the most amazing thing you've ever thought about? What you can't possibly do on your own, you can totally do by the grace God imparts to His Church! And there is great grace for all those who enter the season of Lent -- with Christ. For now, I will linger with the word a few more hours...


What an amazing word!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Shoes on Telephone Lines & Hubcaps on Branches

Once in awhile, I see a shoe in the road. It's odd -- a shoe in a road, in a place it obviously doesn't belong, separated from its mate.

It's almost as odd as seeing a pair of shoes tied together and flung across an overhead wire. You can't help wondering how it got there. Plain old weird.

Every once in awhile, as I am driving home, I notice a hubcap that hanging on a branch. As a driver who has lost a hubcap or two through the years, I know why this oddball thing is hanging on a treebranch. Someone found it and knew the owner might be looking for it. The "finder" hung the hubcap on a prominent branch in hopes that the "owner" would pass that way again and see it. The good-deed-doer will never get a thank you for his act of kindness. It is enough to know that the owner might be thankful for the anonymous help.

My friend, during Lent, you are hanging hubcaps on trees for passersby. You won't be thanked. Nobody will ever come up to you and say, "Hey, when I saw the ashes on your forehead, I felt a tug to come back Home."

Or, "When I took an order and the entire family chose seafood, I realized that they were Catholic, and I remembered that it was Friday. That's when I went to Confession. It was the first time in fifteen years."

Or, "I couldn't quite figure out what was going on with her, but she just stopped joining in the office gossip. At first I thought she was sick, but she was in too good of a mood to be sick. Then I wondered. Could it be what she's given up for Lent?"

You are hanging hubcaps on trees. They are out there, the ones who have lost something. And when they notice the oddball hubcap hanging from a tree limb, they might just say, "Hey, that's mine. I need that back."

No acclaim.

No recognition.

No thanks.

Go ahead and hang the hubcaps, friends. And smile while you're doing it. You are about to make another person's day, or week, or eternity.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Story of Eliana - my daughter-in-law's blog

This is more than the debut of a blog or the debut of a baby. This is the debut of a miracle. Thanks be to God. Candice writes...

The Story of Eliana: Eliana's Birth:


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Saints Cheering Us On

So Great A Cloud of Witnesses!

Sometimes, when I think about eternity and what it is like to step from this life into the Life that never ends, I wonder what it is like - say - after a few hundred years or so. What does one do after that?

And then I think of Hebrews 12.

That's when I smile. The saints are cheering us on. Who is waving a bell and telling me that I can do it? St. Teresa of Avila. She's my biggest fan. "Run, sweetie, run!"

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us. (Hebrews 12:1 - a portion of the readings from today's Mass)

Who is cheering for you? Hebrews 12
Who is praying for you? Revelations 8:4
All glory to the One who sits on the Throne, who hears the prayers of the holy ones gathered there. Saints above, intercede for us all. And always, always cheer us onward in this journey of faith.


Judge not, lest you be judged.

I'm finally wearing my rings again.

When my granddaughter (Eliana) was in the NICU, we had to remove all jewelry and watches so that we could do the two-minute iodine scrub. It was just easier to put the rings away and wait for the NICU crisis to pass.

So, it's a good sign that the rings are back on my fingers.

I knew it was possible that people would think I wasn't married since I wasn't wearing my wedding ring. They might think that I was poor, because I didn't wear my watch and all of my fingers were ring-less and my fingernails were short and I hadn't had a manucure in a year.

It didn't matter to me. Each time my mind paused to look at my hands, each time my mind did that momentary "oh, no, where are my rings?" I would make it a moment of prayer.

God, heal Eliana. Send an abundance of grace to my son and daughter-in-law.

The absence of rings reminded me to pray.

I still need to be reminded to pray without ceasing, but now that the rings are back, I have to do something else. So, today, I put on my big crucifix.

I know it is possible that people will think I am a nun or a religous nut. Some may think that I think that I am holy.

And that's okay. This necklace is big enough to grab my attention a hundred times a day - like a clarion call to pray.

Sometimes, it's the absence of things that reminds us to pray.

Sometimes, it's the presence of things that reminds us to pray.

The important thing is to pray.

And let the judges worry about themselves.

Monday, February 4, 2013

40 Ways to Get More Out of Lent

40 Ways to Get More Out of Lent

Prayerfully read the list and discern what God is asking of you this Lenten Season.


Friday, February 1, 2013

Crosswalks in the Faith

This morning, I drove through the town of Marthasville, Missouri, as I always do when I take my daughter to a Catholic school that is located in a nearby community.

On the way, we passed through the public school cross walks. Children, especially the younger ones, ran enthusiastically. A crossing guard and a policeman in a patrol car were on duty to ensure the safety of over-zealous youth.

On my way home, I passed through the same area. The sidewalks were mostly empty now, for classes were in session.

But there was one man, at a corner, ready to enter the crosswalk. He was obviously out for his daily constitutional. He approached the whole street-crossing event, well, differently.

The young ones had total confidence in their physical ability to cross the road. Completely oblivious, they had dashed into the crosswalk without fear. They needed the help of another person to guide them safely to the other side of the street.

The elderly gentleman soberly looked at the crosswalk and paused. Cane in hand, he waited, almost as if he were doing an all-systems check. The physical exertion might be too much. Walking down the sidewalk was one thing. But this crossing-the-road moment required deliberate forethought. One could not get part-way across only to find that the legs couldn't finish the job.

Spiritually, there is a lesson here. When we convert, we are eager to take off running, and we often race ahead. We sometimes need to let the wise ones lead us through dangerous crossings. We need to listen for their voices of wisdom - and heed them. In our super-abundance of zeal, we can make mistakes. And some mistakes can be lethal - spiritually speaking.

As we age in the spiritual journey, and as we age physically, we realize that some phases of life are really daunting. They require much contemplation. One can never be too confident here. An all-systems check is called for.

It would be tragic to assume we can do this, just because we have done this kind of thing before.

Lest we run the spiritual race of life to be disqualified in the end. St. Paul got it.

And we must never think we have anything over on St. Paul. Even the best of them can fall at the very end. Even those who once served as crossing guards can become as frail and weak as the elderly man.

Some days, I feel like the children - and I need whatever wisdom I can gain from those who have gone before me. Some days I look at the task at hand, knowing I have done it many times before and found it difficult more often than I care to admit. And so, I pause, and pray, and wait upon the Lord.

And some days, I'm just driving the car through the community and taking mental notes. Like today.