A few years ago I stumbled upon a book called A Year With the Saints, and instead of reading it cover to cover, I pick it up every once in a while and read one of the twelve chapters, each one corresponding to a different virtue. It’s always the virtue I’m especially lacking at the moment: I read the chapter on Simplicity when I was feeling especially frazzled, the chapter on Humility when I was acting particularly haughty, and the chapter on Diligence when it seemed that everything I did, I put in half the effort – or less – than I should. It was this chapter on diligence, peppered with quotes from the presumably diligent St. Francis de Sales, that stuck with me, and comes back to me, ironically, as summer begins. Continue reading
I was working on a short story for my creative writing course when I ran into a problem. The story is about knights and castles, and I wanted the King, Cherathon the Flame, to be an allegorical Christ-figure. But an author can only portray a convincing character if he understands him through and through. What is his temperament? How does he think? What are his motives? This all came down to one key question for me: what is the personality of Jesus Christ?
Luckily, my team here at the seminary had just finished a long discussion on personality types. We based it on the four-characteristic, Myers-Briggs system. So, I took everything that I learned from the conversation and sat down at my desk, tapping my pencil against my head as I tried to sketch this complex figure, the Messiah, the carpenter. Continue reading
There are some things about the World Cup of Soccer that can be predicted with near precision. Some are good and some are bad. And they will play out in Russia over the month-long extravaganza of sport and media fascination.
Let’s start with the bad things that likely will happen: Continue reading
Up until last weekend, it had been a long time since our family had taken a trip together. In 2012, we had collected enough points to fly our entire family of seven to Europe for two weeks, where we stayed with old friends and toured Belgium and the North of France, made new friends and ate snails and waffles and bread. But in the six years that followed, we stayed pretty close to home, me and my husband, Jamie, jetting off on our own here and there, but always leaving the kids at home. Continue reading
For many book lovers, summer brings the possibility of days spent relaxing with a good read. The dilemma arises: what to choose?
A self-confessed bibliophile, I am blessed to have many friends whose souls and characters are enriched by being book lovers as well. They come from all walks of life: priests, consecrated, lay Catholics, and other friends who have excellent taste in literature.
Reading can be more than an intellectual or entertaining pursuit. Good books of all genres are like mirrors held up to our souls and minds, helping us to understand ourselves, others and the world more deeply. Continue reading
Midway through a melodious ode about spring brimming with life and replete with dancing nymphs and Cytherean Venus—picture Botticelli’s Birth of Venus—Horace suddenly introduces Pallida Mors, pale death. It shocks, it dazzles, it pains the reader that in a meditation of sun-filled meadows and sprightly flowers greedy death dips its fingers into the scene and as Horace says “impartial, knocks at the door of both the poor man’s shack and the rich man’s villa.” Continue reading
One fresh April morning, leaving St. Peter’s Basilica, I walked across the Tiber river, through a maze of beautiful Roman streets, and found myself standing in front of the iconic Pantheon. Breathtaking as it is, it wasn’t my destination.
I continued around the corner and went into the more modest Basilica of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, where my friend St. Catherine of Siena lies in repose. She is a good friend, and someone I love to spend time in prayer with. But this morning, I simply greeted her with a smile and a quick hello, and then walked over to the dark back-left corner of the church. Getting up close to the grate of the side-chapel hidden in the shadows there, I settled in to pray before my favorite image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, exchanging smiles of heart with St. Catherine, and the friend who joined us there, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque.
The first time I saw this painting, it hit me powerfully. My first impulse was an unspoken exclamation, “I want to be there with them, adoring Jesus together with them!” And then I realized… I am. Not in a painting, but in reality. Continue reading
For quite some time, my husband and I have considered ourselves “minimalists”. We make weekly trips to second-hand depots where we pass on things we once thought we needed. We second- and third-guess our purchases, asking ourselves and each other “do we really need this?” before allowing it into our home. Most of our cupboards and drawers are half full, and in several rooms, we’ve had to take down shelves because we simply had nothing left with which to fill them. “Is this room too bare?” I asked my mom after another recent purge. “It’s… sparse,” was her reply. Perfect, that’s just the way we like it. Continue reading
I originally wrote this reflection with my consecrated brothers and sisters in the Legion and Regnum Christi in mind, but I think it can still be helpful (at least analogously) for any Christian who is seeking a deeper friendship with God. I’m currently studying the Classical Humanities in Cheshire, CT, and am preparing to go to Rome to continue my studies for the priesthood. It is a tremendous blessing to have so many companions from which to draw this reflection and experience of friendship of the soul.
The times we live in can be so blind to the gifts of God. And we, children of our times, are subject to the same blindness of heart. A book or even many books could be written about today’s crisis of real friendship and its misunderstood place in our society. I simply want to share my reflections over a question that perhaps we wonder in our hearts, yet we struggle to articulate: Does friendship really matter for a consecrated man or woman who has heard and answered the Lord’s call? This isn’t just a “friend” on Facebook or a colleague you’ve worked with for many years, and have learned to tolerate their rough edges. I am speaking of a friendship of the soul. First, let me describe what sort of friendship I am thinking of and then we’ll consider why it could be worthwhile. Continue reading
I love taking my daughter to her fiddle lessons. They’re held in an old two-story house downtown, each room of the house having been converted into an instruction space for a different instrument. Guitar lessons are at the back of the house in what used to be the kitchen, and the drum kit is set up at the front behind two (acoustically insulated) French doors in what once was the living room. What was the upstairs bedroom at the front of the house is now dedicated to piano and voice lessons, the middle bedroom is for the electric guitar, and the back bedroom is devoted to those learning the fiddle and banjo. One room upstairs is set up as a waiting room, lined with folding chairs and furnished with books, toys, and one ancient green velvet armchair that welcomes me each week. And every Tuesday evening for exactly one-half hour, I get to sit in that green velvet chair, tune out the sound of five or six lessons of dissimilar instruments going on all at once, and read my book, totally guilt-free. Continue reading