Time to Renew

renewI have had the experience a few times.  It happens during Mass and it makes me squirm.  I might even sneak a look around to find out if people are looking at me.  And I’m willing to bet I’m now the only one who has had this particular experience:  The Catholic Creeps.

There I sit in Mass, well-behaved, quiet. The priest is giving a perfectly fine homily.  Then he warns the congregation of a particular shortcoming or temptation that plagues people and I have the sense he is talking directly to me. Continue reading

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Trust is Greater than Certainty 

trustTrust is greater than certainty. Let me explain. Trust is certain, yes, and I would say the greatest certainty, because it is based on God and not us. What I mean is intellectual certainty. 

Certainty about what will happen in the future doesn’t exist. Not even the Blessed Mother had it. We can do our best to control all the factors, but there is still so much we can’t control: health, accidents, the free will of others, our own weakness. 

This uncertainty makes us feel so insecure. If only we could take it away! But would that make us happy? I would argue no.  Continue reading

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The Other Ignatius

antiochWe often hear of St Ignatius of Loyola, valiant founder of the Jesuits.  Another Ignatius impacted the world with his faith many centuries before him, Ignatius of Antioch.

The persecution of the disciples in Jerusalem, Cyrene and Cyprus pushed the threatened evangelizers to go farther and farther abroad, extending the boundaries of the Kingdom.  It was Peter himself who went to Antioch and led the church there.  He found a man who would build a foundation of faith during uncertainty, clarity amidst confusion and fidelity surrounded by heresy. Several years later, St. Peter left Antioch for Rome.  After being ordained by the first pope himself, and then mentored by St. Paul and St. John, Ignatius became bishop of Antioch, where the bible tells us, that the believers were called for the first time, Christians. Continue reading

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Learning to Love with La Madre

They say that you don’t choose the saints you are close to, instead, they choose you.  Sometimes we feel we are chosen by saints who answer our prayers for their intercession, or help us practically (in case you’re wondering, St. Anthony lives at MY house, and although he is very busy we are happy to let you borrow him occasionally….).

To me, this idea of being chosen is shown most deeply through a resonance, like the saint is holding a mirror up to your heart, soul and life, inspiring you to get closer to God by a route that is in some way similar to their own path. Continue reading

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Days of Disaster


disasterDevastating hurricanes hit the Caribbean and Southern United States.  Terrifying earthquakes strike Mexico.  For reasons unknown, a man rains terror on a concert crowd in Las Vegas, killing dozens and wounding hundreds.

What an awful summer, filled with despair and destruction.

We pray for those suffering. We send money and supplies.  People who are able, volunteer their labor.

And we look for someone or something to blame. Continue reading

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The Fierce Strength of the Little Flower

thereseSt Therese of Liseux is one of the most beloved saints of the Catholic Church, earning the endearing nickname, ‘The Little Flower.’

For years after reading her biography I had a quiet itch in my soul whenever I thought about her, because frankly, although I found it lovely to learn about her beautiful life and virtue, I certainly didn’t connect with her.

Everything seemed so easy for St. Therese. Her ‘little way’ seemed so simple and facile.  I didn’t see the struggles I had in my own life as a young woman, or any of the ways I got discouraged, or fell and had to keep getting back up.  Her life was lovely, but totally unrelatable to me.

A few years ago, I discovered the truth. Not only had I misunderstood the depth of the ‘little way,’ but the autobiography St Therese of Liseux that I read had been heavily edited, to the point of being censored.  Continue reading

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smiles“Suffering is the earthly aspect of that divine reality known as love.”  (Secrets of the Interior Life)

Since I’ve left Milan, I’ve had difficulty explaining the Sacra Famiglia…and even here, in my attempt to order the millions of experiences I had in only nine days there, I still feel I’ve fallen short of reality. To start from somewhere, I guess it’s a residency for patients with severe mental and physical handicaps, but that description definitely doesn’t do it justice. It’s a sort of little town adapted to the needs of the ospiti, as the residents are called, with broad, automatic doors and ramps for wheelchairs at every entrance, complete with a church, woodworking and pottery workshop, hairdresser, and mini movie theater. According to each disability there are different buildings with round-the-clock nurses.

And everywhere, there are smiles.

I simply cannot describe the way the faces of the ospiti would light up when I would pass them walking (or wheeling) outside and greet them with a simple “buongiorno.” Continue reading

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Who are the 35%?

catholicsThey are our neighbors, our relatives, our coworkers and our friends…. They are the 35% of Catholics who do not go to Mass regularly or practice their faith, but still self-identify as Catholic.  The question is: Why?

Fr. Thomas Gaunt, S.J., addressed the 2017 Convocation of Catholic leaders to explain the changing landscape of the Church.   He introduced us to research that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops had done to try to understand what it meant to be Catholic in America. The research showed that in a church of 75 million American Catholics, 25 million do not go to Mass regularly, but still had a strong interior need to self-identify as Catholics.  Continue reading

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A different flavor of PDB

pdbThe President of the United States gets many perks.  Living in the White House.  Smart folks to help.  Air Force One.  Camp David.

And he also has each morning should he wish it, the opportunity to review the President’s Daily Brief (PDB).  Frankly, I think this is more a penalty than a perk.  It is the report from the intelligence community about what the greatest threats against peace and stability are that particular day. Continue reading

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Touching God through Sacred Sound


The packed cathedral of St. Patrick’s in Manhattan was buzzing with quiet conversation as the audience waited for the Sistine Choir Chapel to enter the sanctuary for their first concert in America in over 30 years.  Many came from out of state, and even from out of country to hear the powerful and angelic voices that would fill the cathedral.

sacredAs the Maestro raised his arms to signal the beginning of the first piece, the crowd hushed in anticipation of the powerful music.

Instead, what came was the quiet and pure intonation of Gregorian Chant, ‘Gaudete in Domino’. The 2000 people in attendance were overpowered, not by a burst of sound, but by a haunting, quiet polyphony that demanded they be silent to hear it.

In a city accustomed to flash and noise, once holy place was brought to silence. It was the silence of a love that unites, as the spiritual authors have written over the centuries. The quiet music seemed to come from within each person hearing it, evoking prayer and reflective attention, instead of overwhelming them from an exterior noise. Continue reading

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