They really were the good old days

sundaySunday’s were different when I was a kid.

We went to church, took a walk and played in the yard, maybe watched a baseball game on TV, and had a big “Sunday Dinner.” In those days, mom didn’t worry about how fattening the roast was – and she put real butter on the mashed potatoes and ice cream on the pecan pie.

This wasn’t centuries ago, although I admit it was decades ago.  Sundays were relatively quiet and peaceful. I think that is because the only store that was open in our neighborhood was Jimmy’s Pharmacy – and it closed at noon after everyone had filled their prescriptions, purchased a paper and perhaps bought a bag of roasted nuts from the rotating display by the cash register.

We lived in the Clintonville area of Columbus, Ohio. Compared to New York or Chicago, it was a small town.  But Columbus is the state capital and home of Ohio State University and had about half a million people, so it got a pretty big dot on most maps. Continue reading

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Living the Corporal Works of Mercy During Lent (I was imprisoned and you visited me.)

After working our way through the first five corporal works of mercy during Lent (feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, and caring for the sick), it was time for our little family to visit the imprisoned:

 I was imprisoned and you visited me.

While most penitentiaries don’t welcome random children to come in and visit prisoners, there are plenty of ways we can unite ourselves to, minister to, and serve the imprisoned. There was one main way we chose to unite ourselves with the imprisoned: the Sacrament of Reconciliation. When we examine our own lives and acknowledge our own sins, we shorten the distance between ourselves and those who have been incarcerated for their choices and actions. This is a great time to get in the habit of a simple nightly examination of conscience and frequent reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Along with praying for the imprisoned, your family could make a donation to the prison ministry in your community. As well, last year we had the pleasure of meeting Sister Helen Prejean (the real-life nun behind the movie “Dead Man Walking”) and hearing her speak with such mercy and compassion about the prisoners to whom she had the honour to minister: you could watch the movie, add Sister Helen’s books to your Lenten reading list and/or donate to her cause: Continue reading

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Living the Corporal Works of Mercy During Lent (I was naked, and you clothed me.)

Over the past three Lents, our family had worked through the first three corporal works of mercy: we focused on feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, and welcoming the stranger. In the fourth year of our journey through the corporal works of mercy, we found ourselves clothing the naked:

I was naked and you clothed me.

In acknowledging “the naked” this year, our family focused on restoring dignity to the poor, the vulnerable, and the unnoticed. In an effort to unite ourselves with those living with less and at the same time recognize our own excess, we all drastically reduced our wardrobes. To do this, we each reduced our wardrobe to 40 items; any clothes that didn’t make the cut were backed away in boxes until Easter. Continue reading

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Living the Corporal Works of Mercy During Lent (I was a stranger, and you welcomed me.)

After working on the corporal works of mercy of feeding the hungry and giving drink to the thirsty, in the next year of our Lenten journey through the corporal works of mercy, our family welcomed the stranger:

I was a stranger and you welcomed me.

In the third year, our family made an extra effort to make our home a place of welcome. Towards each other, we tried to do daily acts of kindness and attentiveness (letting a sibling have a turn at a game, or bringing someone a glass of ice water), and tried our best to always use loving and calm speech (which wasn’t always easy in a house with 5 kids!). We also made an effort to greet everyone well when they entered our home (whether that was Daddy when he got home from work, the kids when they got home from school or invited guests), and keep the entrance of our home clean and welcoming. In addition to this, we prayed for refugees entering our community, and donated extra clothes and household goods to a parish that was collecting items for a refugee family it was preparing to host.

Other ideas: This is a great time to reach out to the “strangers” in our lives (parishioners new to our church, the neighbors who recently moved in nearby that we have not yet met, the new kid at school, etc.). Have you ever considered teaching English as a second language in your community? Now’s the time to sign up as a volunteer!


Our Lenten patron saint of welcoming the stranger: St. Alban, a convert who, while he was still a pagan, is said to have opened his home to a priest and kept him hidden during a time of Christian persecution, and was martyred for it.


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The Lent Jesus Wants

As Lent began I was, once again, resolved to prove my love to God by making sacrifices that show him how much I love him, that I do indeed love him more than my comforts and my weaknesses. I had my plan, my list of what I’m giving up and what I will do better.

By the end of week 2, reality hit, my little project failed, and I really entered Lent, the Lent Jesus wants.

Coming to prayer, embarrassed to raise my eyes to him because I have failed so many times, and I am a total mess at this ‘proving my love’ thing, I offer him the only real sacrifice I can make- my mess itself- my efforts, my failures, my striving, my desires, everything- the whole mess that was once a neatly organized list of good intentions.

As I offer it to him, I feel his smile, as if he is saying to me, “Finally, we can really begin the journey of Lent.” Continue reading

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Judges & Ruth 

judgesEverything Goes Wrong: Judges 1-8, 13-21 

But a Glimmer of Hope: Ruth 1-4

Judges marked the period of religious, social and political chaos where “there was no king in Israel; every man did what was the right in his own eyes” (Jud 17:6 & 21:25), whereas Ruth served as an oasis of relief between Judges and Samuel.

One key theme in Judges is the inversion of norms.  When there was no central authority, everyone chose their own moral standard. Micha just built a shrine at his home and installed his son as the priest (Jud 17:5); the Benjaminites just grabbed wives from the daughters of Shiloh (Jud 21:21-23).  Continue reading

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Living the Corporal Works of Mercy During Lent (I was thirsty, and you gave me drink.)

In the previous post, I wrote about how our family has been focusing on one of the corporal works of mercy each Lent, beginning with feeding the hungry. Here’s what we did the following year:


We shared articles with the kids at suppertime
to make them aware of the struggle many communities
face just to have safe water for drinking and bathing.

I was thirsty and you gave me drink.

For our average little family, it can be easy to take our relative comfort and contentment for granted, even to the point where we become ignorant to the needs of others! Lent is a great gift, as it inspires us to unite ourselves to the vulnerable and the suffering that God has placed in our care. In the second year of this journey, we each gave up our favorite drinks during Lent (whether that was coffee, pop, juice, or beer in Dad’s case!), in unity with those who do not have access to fresh, clean water, and in appreciation that we do. The money that we saved on drinks (this adds up when you abstain from gourmet coffees and order only water at restaurants) we donated to a charity that builds wells to provide clean drinking water for communities in need. We also recognized the spiritually thirsty, and prayed for those thirsting for Christ, making an extra effort to invite people to join us at mass, retreats, or youth events that we attended during Lent. Continue reading

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Join the Pope in Prayer

prayerFriday, February 23, 2018, is not to be a Friday like any other Friday.

Pope Francis has proclaimed this Friday a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace, in particular for the populations of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and South Sudan.

The Holy Father also invited the members of other religions to join in the initiative, in the forms they consider most suitable: moments of prayer, fasting, and reflection. He pointed out that religions can contribute greatly to obtaining and consolidating peace.

Seeing how the Pope reaches out to the peripheries, my guess is he won’t mind if atheists try praying on Friday.  I don’t think God rejects prayers from people who are out of practice or never learned in the first place.  In fact, I’m pretty sure he is happy when new prayer warriors appear. Continue reading

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Most or Must

mustThe law of love unwritten. It’s not the arithmetical sum of specifically prescribed actions and no more. Just like there is no written law of how to be a good husband. There’s no good Husband’s Handbook that says how often he should buy his wife flowers. But there is an unwritten law of love that urges him to show his love by buying her flowers occasionally and not always opt for the pre-made bouquets from the clearance aisle.

We like written laws because they tell us how far we must go. We fulfill them and that’s the end of it. Clear conscience, no guilt. Done deal. Unwritten laws have no ceiling limit, and that’s uncomfortable. Continue reading

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Living the Corporal Works of Mercy During Lent (I was hungry, and you gave me food.)

marriageMany years ago, I brought home from a retreat a prayer card that was designed to be folded and set in the middle of the table. On the card was a prayer to be prayed during Lent, inspired by the words of Christ in Matthew 25: 35-36: (Corporal Works of Mercy)

I was hungry and you gave me food.

I was thirsty and you gave me drink.

I was a stranger and you welcomed me.

I was naked and you clothed me.

I was ill and you cared for me.

I was in jail and you visited me. Continue reading

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