Friday, December 31, 2004

The Horrible Talking Lectern Head

At this Saturday vigil Mass and on five Masses on Sunday, I'll be either the bane of parishioners' existence or a welcome novelty: I have to speak before all the Masses to introduce the first 2005 session of my parish's "Coming Home" ministry, which I think of as the "Cranky Catholics" series.

First, pray for me. I do not speak to large crowds very often. I want to be welcoming, amusing, sincere, holy, informative, and perfect in every way. Hah. What I really should want is that the Holy Spirit will speak through me and get people off their fundaments and into our session.

Here's my speech, edited to provide privacy to my parish so that I can later comment on what happens during the sessions:

Happy New Year! My name is Therese Z.

Thank for giving me a few minutes’ attention this morning. I am here to tell you about a seminar St. Exultet's offers. We want to bring absent Catholics back more deeply into the Church, to come back home again. Twice a year, we offer a six-week program of discussion and education and help. We aim at two groups of Catholics:

-The first group is those who are not here. They have wandered away, walked away, or even stomped away from the Church. You all know them: they feel the Church has let them down. Perhaps someone in the Church, a teacher, a pastor, a coach, might have seemed harsh to them or their families, or were in fact mean or unfair. They might have marriage complications. They usually feel rejected by the Church and have in turn rejected the Church.

- The second group may be sitting here at Mass today. You may feel many of the same things as that first group. You’re wondering what on EARTH you’re doing here. “Mass seems boring, or repetitive. I don’t get anything out of it!” You may even be thinking, “as soon as the kids get a little older, I’m out of here.”

You feel like you’ve gotten behind, and you don’t know where to start. You haven’t been taught anything since your Confirmation classes. You may have knowledge of serious sins, but it’s been so long since you’ve been to Confession, that you can’t remember anything past “Bless Me, Father, for I have sinned.”

Both these groups have one thing in common: they think everything about the Church has changed, or they think that nothing about the Church has changed. They need some answers, information and fellowship. We want to provide all of that at the seminar.

I could have used a group like this myself. I am, by virtue of my age, a kind of “Kumbaya Catholic.” My First Communion Mass was in Latin, but by my senior year of Catholic high school, I knew all the words to Jesus Christ Superstar, but I didn’t own a Bible or a catechism! My memories are a jumble of kneeling at altar rails and making felt banners; “Et cum spiritu tuo” and those happy-clappy 1960’s “hymns” like “All-Le-Lu.”

Although I never said that I wasn't Catholic, I spent a lot of years ignoring my Catholicity. I never tried to understand why the Church taught what She did. I made fun of my Catholic school past, committed all the popular sins, lived through marriage and divorce and the illness and death of family members, without knowing God’s plan for me. All in all, I went a long time without an adult relationship with Jesus Christ or His Church.

A few years ago, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, I showed up at Church again, this time here at St. Exultet's. This time, through the sacraments and a lot of self-education, as well as the example and help of some great, holy people, I found the real everyday relevance as well as the intellectual beauty and truth and depth of the Catholic faith. I want others to have the same experience.

So, we need two things from you:

1. For the absent Catholics: can you give them our handout (see the Bulletin)? Can you tell them about us? If they’re nervous, come WITH them! You’ll learn something too! We owe our family and friends a renewal in their relationship with God through His Church.

2. For the uncomfortable pewsitters here: come and join us. During these six weeks, you can re-orient yourself in the Church, get your questions answered, often by hearing someone else with EXACTLY the same question ask it, and find your place more securely here in this parish and in the Church at large. We don't demand a commitment; we’re only here to make it easier to get questions answered, and facts straight.

Thanks for your attention. Please see the Bulletin for more information, and please pray for our ministry.

God Bless St. Exultet Parish!

Whaddyathink? I'd appreciate your prayers.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

The Holy or Otherwise Family

The Church is brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. The Feast of the Holy Family used to be celebrated on the Sunday after Epiphany, but in 1969 it was moved to the Sunday after Christmas. This is the PERFECT day to celebrate it.

What better time to ponder our families then when we have just had a great, big, heaping, steaming, noisy, overflowing helping of them? No matter how strenuously we each try for a humble, joyful, loving walk with our Lord, again in our midst as a beautiful Baby, did your buttons get pushed? Did the comparisons of who's smarter or more successful or prettier or has better-dressed children come up? Did your cousin's jello come out of the mold more beautifully than yours? Did your children spill Hawaiian punch on the new rug? Did you snap back at your sister? Any eyes rolled, or deep sighs emitted? Were you afraid to speak of your faith in the face of ridicule? And did the story of when you fell in the pond in 1970 in your new wool pants get told....again.....and you're a 48-year-old bank vice president?

Our relationship with our family, if rooted and grounded in Christ, still won't be smooth or easy. But we can ride along these rough parts, offering our discomfort in reparation, accepting it in humility, extending love to the hard-to-love, fetching and carrying and pouring coffee and kissing cheerfully in thanks, not just in amused tolerance, because we are also forgiven and tolerated and loved.

From today's Mass, the opening prayer, for all your families, and mine:

Father in heaven, creator of all, you ordered the earth to bring forth life and crowned its goodness by creating the family of man. In history's moment when all was ready, you sent your Son to dwell in time, obedient to the laws of life in our world. Teach us the sanctity of human love, show us the value of family life, and help us to live in peace with all men that we may share in your life for ever.

Happy second day of Christmas! Remember that cream cheese and sour cream should not be stopped abruptly: a little every few hours will have a sort of methadone effect....

Saturday, December 25, 2004

A Christmas Carol

The Christ-child lay on Mary's lap,
His hair was like a light.
(O weary, weary were the world,
But here is all aright.)
The Christ-child lay on Mary's breast
His hair was like a star.
(O stern and cunning are the kings,
But here the true hearts are.)
The Christ-child lay on Mary's heart,
His hair was like a fire.
(O weary, weary is the world,
But here the world's desire.)
The Christ-child stood on Mary's knee,
His hair was like a crown,
And all the flowers looked up at Him,
And all the stars looked down
G.K. Chesterton

Friday, December 24, 2004

Glad tidings from a former atheist

The scientifically-minded Andrew Klavan in today's Wall Street Journal describes his journey toward God and contrasts it with Prof. Antony Flew's logical encounter with intelligent design.
What finally occurred to me--what tipped the scales in favor of baptism--was that the presumption of atheism proceeds without respect for the human experience of God's presence. Thinkers like Prof. Flew dismiss this experience because they make the mistake of applying the scientific method of analysis, of taking things apart, to an inner life that can only be known as a whole.

When Prof. Flew looks to DNA and the mysteries of creation for God, I propose that he's looking in the wrong direction. Let him, rather, talk to a recovering alcoholic in whom God stands surety for the diseased will, or visit a Salvation Army shelter where God has taught a despairing soul its worth. Let the professor--in the name of experiment--sit in solitude and give silent thanks and feel the almost instantaneous repayment in the coin of vitality and joy. In such situations, I refuse to acknowledge that there is a legitimate and meaningful concept of there being no God.

- - - - -

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11)

May we all follow Mr. Klavan's example and give silent thanks, receiving the almost instantaneous repayment in the coin of vitality and joy. May we discover more to be thankful for every day as we draw near the One who drew near to us.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Talk about trusting your Child!

According to my mother, I am a gawky ignorant teen who should not be let out of the house alone. In my job, I am responsible for millions of dollars in assets and their safe, legal and profitable motions, but to her, I can't tip properly, never know what to wear, don't know how long it takes to drive anywhere and forget about my holiday menu choices..... it's an irritating little cross, but mine own.

Ah, but our Blessed Mother. She was saved in advance, by her Son, in her Immaculate Conception, and knows it ("My Spirit rejoices in God my Savior..."). She is told by the angel that the Child Who will grow in her womb is the Messiah. In today's Gospel reading, Elizabeth, while preoccupied by the child she is carrying beyond all rational biological clocks, still recognizes the import of the Blessed Baby Whom Mary is carrying and not only knows Him as her Lord, but tells Mary "Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled."

When you believe, you trust. Mary is trusting the Baby she is carrying, the Toddler she will toilet-train and teach to read, the Little Boy she will make clean His plate and will pray with before bed, the Son with Whom she will play peek-a-boo and dance in the kitchen. She will trust Him with her soul, and ours. (And at the last, He trusts our souls with her.)

The next time you parents help your children drive by gasping and pressing that handy passenger-side brake, remember our models of trust, the Holy Family.

Merry Christmas! Peace be with you and your family and friends.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Hating Satan

I know that doesn't sound very Christmas-y or Advent-y, but follow my point here: during this pentitential season, I am alarmed at how little I hate my sins.

Sure, I'm aware of my sins and my sinful tendencies. Coming back to the Sacrament of Reconciliation after many years, I've grown in my sensitivity to my sinfulness, at least in regard to how unattractive it is, how unbecoming to a child of God. I do exercise more patience and restraint and tolerance of others around me, I have reduced my exposure to vulgarity and obscenity, and I'm more generous. Well, yay for me, but I know that I have a hugely long way to go to be aware of how my pride and willfulness offends the Christ in others.

But do I really, really hate my sins? I have a creepy feeling that I mostly accommodate them, reduce them at some convenient, bearable rate to a smaller place in my life, so as not to cause too much discomfort in my life, or to look too obvious.

If I really hated my sins, then I would have to hate the Father of Sin himself, Satan, wouldn't I? And shouldn't I be fearing him?

Fear! Another holy emotion we've largely lost. I know I don't fear God near enough, except as a giver-out of punishments (think of the old Act of Contrition "I detest all my sins because of Thy just punishments.....") because I think that *I* have control of my destiny. I don't fear Satan either, for the same reason. I think that *I* can control my sins, and I'm just fine controlling my own good and evil impulses, right?

When I get this figured out, I'll let you know. It's probably the big next step towards growing in a walk with Christ.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Pleased as Man with men to dwell

I have an ambivalent relationship with Christmas music. At it's best, it is a wonderful acknowledgement that the Incarnation changed the world forever. When Christ broke into my life, it was Joy to the World that poured out of my lips, the only suitable expression at hand of what was welling up inside me. Hark the Herald Angels Sing has some of the best lyrics ever written. At it's worst -- well, words fail me. (Thankfully, they don't fail James Lileks. Take a look at his column in the Star Tribune. You may have to register to gain access. It's worth it.)

It may surprise you (it does me) that I don't resent the Winter Holiday music that inhabits the "all-Xmas-music-all-the-time" radio stations, malls and doctor's offices. True enough, I could live very happily without ever hearing "Frosty the Snowman" again. But the commercialization and "inanity-zation" of Christmas, though stricken with spiritual poverty, does have an up side. When you're celebrating the birth of Jesus, He lurks around every corner. It's HIS birth being celebrated, no matter how poorly and inadequately. In spite of the studied godlessness into which so many children are being raised, there is an annual month of something that later can reveal itself to have been grounded in deep and wonderful meaning.

Our society today is going to find something to both celebrate and commercialize. That's the way things get and keep our attention in Western culture. For instance, in the absence of high-powered commercialization of Thanksgiving, which remains primarily a family-centric holiday, we have seen the rise of Halloween as the Autumn Holiday both in stores and schools. Who can possibly argue that we are better off having such a thing in the forefront of our children's attention for months on end?

So if we North Americans are going to shred and deface a holiday, please forgive me for thinking that I'd just as soon it would be Christmas. Who knows but that a child will someday be touched by the mercy of God, link it back to a vague memory of Joy to the World, and whisper to Christ "So . . . it was you all the time."

Sunday, November 28, 2004

We wait in joyful hope

No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived what God has prepared for those who love him. 1:Cor 2:9

It's Advent. We wait and prepare for what we know will happen. God is made man. God Himself, the very knitter of our lives, the First Mover, the ultimate, the Lord of everything that has ever been made -- this God chooses to become one of us.

We take it for granted. We've known about the Christmas narrative all our lives, many of us, so it takes on a misty feeling of inevitability. But -- stay with me here -- there is no earthly reason why God should have chosen to do this. He created us, loved us, yes. But when your creation screws up royally, you are well within your rights and certainly within your power to trash it and start again. Our story could have ended right there.

But no. No. There's more.

And that's what we celebrate. We wait for the quiet holy day when a peasant girl and her fiance are visited by the miracle of miracles in a damp, musty stable. It's glorious enough and tender enough that it should make us gasp or weep. God didn't have to do it. But He did.

So we wait in joyful hope for the coming of the Savior, knowing that our lives have never been the same again.

Let's go to the Sh-Boom Mass?

Among my guilty pleasures are the PBS specials that feature old doo-wop groups, or the one that's been running all this weekend, called "Magic Moments," of the 1950's pop groups, like the Crew Cuts, and singers like Patti Page and Pat Boone. I can watch those shows over and over and over.

I even get a little teary when some group that hasn't performed together for thirty years get out on the stage, white-haired, a little paunchy, and belt out their hit song, their voices holding up better than you'd ever expect. The audience is the right age, and they're totally swept up, crying, singing along, laughing.

I don't always remember the songs first-hand. No matter: the sound takes me back to being little, listening to the aqua plastic radio in the kitchen, listening to my parents put Trini Lopez and Four Freshmen records on the hi-fi when they entertained, and I thought they were the most stylish people in the world. It makes me feel safe, young, in a place I know very well.

I have a great yearning to go to a Latin Mass, either Tridentine or Novus Ordo. The Chicago area is full of them, some with very superior music and young families crowding the pews. One notable one is St. John Cantius Church.

I'd like to make sure before I head for any of them, mantilla in hand, old missal in my purse, that I'm not going to hear the liturgical equivalent of Doo-Wop. I want to go to worship God in a way that the Church has spent centuries perfecting.

But I think that a little of it is to take me back to my First Communion, when the Mass was still in Latin, the priest had his back to us, and we weren't even up to the Latin "dialogue Mass" (the one in which we said "Et cum spiritu tuo" about a thousand times...). Nothing wrong with nostalgia, except that I'd better do a little studying before I go, so that I don't sit and cry for times past, when my folks had brown hair and I had the majority of my grandparents and all I wanted in life was a pony.

Friday, November 26, 2004

The Season of Awkward Graces

The day before Thanksgiving, I was trolling around the blogworld looking for a grace that would be "less Catholic," since some of the family members that would be pulling up to my table have sadly become Unitarians. And Unitarians of the "greatest power in the universe is human reason" kind. They barely condescend to acknowledge the presence of a God, except perhaps as a catch-all term for stuff that our brains haven't understood yet, or a term used by weak-minded people.

One of them is a cradle Catholic, but they look at those of us who make the Sign of the Cross as though we were laying food offerings before an idol. How quaint, their faces say. Their children don't have a clue (I feel sorriest for them).

So I thought that, being the hostess, I was entitled to control the grace and picked one that mentioned God, as Heavenly Father, but no Jesus Christ and no sacramentals. I seized the opportunity and thanked God for the trials and gifts He sent me this year, and passed the thanksgiving on around the table, then said the short grace and then watched them eat.

This is the season of the Awkward Grace, for those of us (I imagine everybody here) who has family and friends that are somewhere between lapsed and pagan. I would have enjoyed a prayer, a song or a psalm, but they would have left others resentful or confused. So a combination of cowardliness and reticence took me down the short rhymed thanks to God route.

This is different than those of you who are Catholic and have family/friends who are anti-Catholic but are still fervent believers in Christ. I kind of envy you right now.

Who said that they marvelled at atheists when they felt thankful for a beautiful day; to whom do they direct their thanks?

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Forgotten treasure

I don't consider myself possessed of enough intellectual or literary talent to be entitled to a favorite poet. It's as if a Fuzzy Logic Panini Press were found in the kitchen of a 'Grilled Cheese on Wonder Bread' Cook.

Despite that compelling argument, I do indeed have a favorite poet, and his name is Richard Wilbur. Years ago, a friend wrote his doctoral dissertation on Wilbur's work; in my earnest desire to keep up with my friend's intellectual power, I discovered a treasure. In a recent post, TSO reminded me of Wilbur's work, and I got that little prickle of delight that accompanies the memory of something really, really good.

In honor of the approach of Advent, here's my very favorite Wilbur poem.

A Christmas Hymn
"And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.
And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the very stones would immediately cry out." ---St. Luke XIX, 39-40

A stable-lamp is lighted
Whose glow shall wake the sky;
The stars shall bend their voices,
And every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry,
And straw like gold shall shine;
A barn shall harbor heaven,
A stall become a shrine.

This child through David's city
Shall ride in triumph by;
The palm shall strew its branches,
And every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry,
Though heavy, dull, and dumb,
And lie within the roadway
To pave his kingdom come.

Yet he shall be forsaken,
And yielded up to die;
The sky shall groan and darken,
And every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry
For stony hearts of men:
God's blood upon the spearhead,
God's love refused again.

But now, as at the ending,
The low is lifted high;
The stars shall bend their voices,
And every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry
In praises of the child
By whose descent among us
The worlds are reconciled.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

So, what's your problem?

Although contemporary thinkers have any number of theories about what humanity's basic problem is, Jesus had it nailed. Our main problem in life is that we're going to die. We sin, and then we get what we deserve.

I had a Microeconomics professor who gave us the economist's view of the process of life. "You're born, you produce, you consume, you die." From a spiritual perspective, it looks a little different: "You're born, you sin, Jesus steps in, you repent, you die, God raises you to His right hand."

Fr. David Hudgins at The Great Commandment delivered a great little homily a couple of weeks ago based on the Book of Maccabees. From Fr. Hudgins:
This word, resurrection is sort of overplayed for us in English. It almost sounds like resuscitation. I like the Greek expression for resurrection much better. Anastasis necron. Literally it means “the standing up again of a corpse.” This is obviously a tremendously literal, pictorial expression. The standing up again of a corpse. That is precisely what we profess in our creed.What came down from that cross on Good Friday was a corpse. What was then laid in the tomb was a corpse. But on the third day, He rose. His risen body was transformed, glorified. Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, paved the way for you and for me, to rise from the grave transformed, spiritualized. This is our hope. This is our faith. This is why we’re here on Sunday morning, resurrection day. God’s love was so great, that He sent His Son to take sin and death onto Himself, so that we might live, so that sin and death would not have the last laugh.

That last deserves to be repeated. Sin and death do not have the last laugh. When you look in the back of the Book, Jesus wins.

Monday, October 25, 2004

More Catholic novels

Following my dearly beloved Rumer Godden, below, there is another writer fascinated with faith, and especially the Catholic faith: Taylor Caldwell. She wrote a billion novels, many of which are very thick, lots and lots of story there, and are of the more-or-less-historically-accurate genre: she seems awfully sure of the motivations of the actual people she writes about, but at least her Regency duchesses don't make telephone calls. Her best-known novel is probably Captains and the Kings, a saga that strongly resembles the Kennedy family.

She wrote a couple of books about St. Paul (which I just realize that I never read, oh, boy!) and Judas Iscariot, as well as one I loved as a teenager: Dear and Glorious Physician, about St. Luke. But the book that I've read until the covers have fallen off my paperback, as a dependable getter-to-sleep, is Grandmother and the Priests, written in 1963. (The link is for a bunch of amateur reviews of books and movies. Scroll down to find the one for this book. It's quite good.)

In the early 20th century, Irish and Scottish priests gather at the lavish dinner table and fireside of the narrator's grandmother, a demanding, independent, bejewelled pistol of a woman. She feeds and funds them, but won't hear of the state of her soul, and extends both generosity and snubs to her granddaughter as well. The narrator and her grandmother are not the meat of the novel, though; that's contained in the eleven stories of heroic priests, splendid and funny sagas of bravery large and small. These stories are set in an Ireland reeling after the Famine and deserted by her starving children for America, and in Scotland, suspicious of Catholics and also poverty-stricken. The Devil is met and bargained with, true lovers are united, dogs communicate their master's anguish and a murder mystery is solved. But these stories are not fanciful. They are completely believable. They are frankly and unabashedly legends. Fr. Benedict Groeschel says that a "legend is something that may or may not have happened, but is true anyway."

Miss Caldwell seems to have some real understanding of being touched by God in the middle of our everyday lives. In Dear and Glorious Physician, she writes a moving description of the pagan Roman Luke being drawn by love and awe to a temple of a god unknown to him, a temple with a cross. (Now that I think of it, the timing of his youth and his discovery of the truth of Jesus Christ might be a little off.) Likewise in Grandmother and the Priests, one chapter is about a priest who loses his faith right in the middle of Mass, and how he finds it again in the depths of his despair (I cry every darn time). She seems to understand how God reaches out and touches us, perhaps leading first with an earthly thing, but bringing the weight of His Love behind it to convince us of His Presence.

I love Miss Caldwell and Miss Godden's books. They are novels, nice non-challenging airport reads. You don't have to have a reference book handy. You aren't embarassed by what you don't know. It's a shame that you may have to find them in a library or on eBay, rather than in current print.

I'm a little afraid of Flannery O'Connor, her mysticism and I don't quite resonate, probably due to my own sinfulness. I'm more uncomfortable with Evelyn Waugh, who is tortured by his faith. God bless G. K. Chesterton, I read the Fr. Brown books and I'll read them again, but they can be a little arduous. I'll give all them a periodic retrial, but I'll regularly reach back and tip a Godden or a Caldwell off the shelf when I want to enjoy a nice, resounding, Catholic read.

Next: Theophilus North, by Thornton Wilder. Not deliberately Catholic, but that man was swishing more than one toe in the Tiber, at least in his view of the beautiful holiness and complexity of God's Creation and the holiness of our time spent in it, before Heaven.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

You're invited for a visit

This is Roz, who also posts at In Dwelling. I wrote a post about abortion on that blog rather than here because . . . well, I just felt like it. But you're welcome to stop by, read and comment if you like.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

There are other Catholic novels out there

besides those by G.K. Chesteron, Flannery O'Connor and Evelyn Waugh.

When I was in seventh grade, I was required to read a book called "The River." In true student fashion, because I had to read it, I loathed it. (The same goes for "A Tale of Two Cities" and "David Copperfield;" I'll have to re-read my way through my high school bibliography again someday....)

The author of "The River" is Rumer Godden (1907-1998), whose books were often peopled with nuns and priests. Several were explicitly about Anglican or Catholic themes, but nearly all were flavored with a yearning towards God. I was surprised that the author of my hated assignment was also the author of some of my favorite light-reading books.

Ms. Godden was fascinated primarily by holiness: in people, in history and in places. She edges around the holiness, at least her child characters do, expressing their desire to know God by concentrating on one piece of religious life: lighting a candle (A Candle for St. Jude), building a garden within sight of a statue of Mary seen through the wall of a bombed-out church (An Episode of Sparrows), making an icon without the slightest idea of what the devotion means (one dear to me, The Kitchen Madonna). One and all the characters have no religious training or example until the story ensues, which I think was symptomatic of England then (and now, sadly), but they learn something of God from these little gifts. Haven't we all been drawn a little closer by a hymn, or a picture, or a movie? Her adult characters seem to move towards God knowing they won't necessarily like the journey, but must undertake it to live.

The first time you read her books, with their characteristic between-wars Englishness, you will be struck by her reverence for religious life. She combines that with a prim, earnest, serious style, with wit and intellect however muted, recalling Barbara Pym and Josephine Tey. All her women are well-bred, well-shod and are genteelly broke. They all are longing starkly for something, and in Ms. Godden's novels, it's love and God.

In her most explicitly religious novel, In This House of Brede, a grown woman finds a vocation to the cloistered religious life and becomes a Benedictine nun. It is a touching and probably quite accurate struggle of a woman, alone after widowhood, rising in business, comfortable in life, growing into the silence and humility and charity necessary to be in community with others seeking to know God. It took me many reads over many years to realize that, superb as her characterization is, and intense as her storyline is (a great deal is revealed about the personal lives of each of the nuns in the convent), what Ms. Godden never seemed to know anything about was the experience of prayer and of receiving the Eucharist. Maybe it's because the nuns in the story are Anglican, which fact startled me because it all sounded so Roman Catholic. This doesn't weaken the book, or any of her books, but when you put one down with a satisfied sigh, you realize only after reflection that she shows no desire to be close to Jesus in prayer and sacrament. I'd be willing to bet that Ms. Godden herself didn't attend church, or if she did, she remained aloof, proper, a little afraid of intensity, too polite to offer her life to the Lord and accept His Life and Love in return. I'm sorry for that: she had the right equipment to write deeply of a deepening faith.

Two other novels are about nuns: Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy and The Black Narcissus. The first is an intense telling of the life of nuns who work with prostitutes and the entry into the convent of one of the prostitutes. The second is about a convent built in India, to help the poor, and its failure (that's revealed in the opening pages, I'm not giving anything away). The second book was made into a medium-lousy movie, if you've seen it, read the book anyway. It's much better.

Ms. Godden, and her sister Jon, are not out of print, but are largely out of mind these days, along with their English sisters. But consider them as an addition to your library pile.

I'll blog next on some of my other favorites: Grandmother and the Priests, by Taylor Caldwell, a book of joyful fables of Irish priests and their heroism in great matters and small, and Theophilus North, by Thornton Wilder, a book not at all about church or nuns or priests, but is a mesmerizing tale of a man who learns the sacredness of life, and the God-given dignity of every man, and the honor due to each person's walk on earth.

Can you suggest any neglected others?

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

I found this delightful thing on Disputations.

The Lepers' Mass

The Penitential Rite
As Jesus ... was entering a village, ten lepers met him.
They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices,
saying, "Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!"

Liturgy of the Word
And when he saw them, he said,
"Go show yourselves to the priests."

Liturgy of the Eucharist
And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned,
glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of
Jesus and thanked him.

Ite, missa est.
Then he said to him, "Stand up and go;
your faith has saved you."

* * * * * * * * *

To visit the original, click here.

New tools

One of my friends is watching her mother-in-law die. Another underwent surgery on her eyes and may not have enough vision afterwards to work anymore. Two of my co-workers consistently irritate each other and get into spats. I can be driven out of my tiny mind in under 15 minutes by a member of my own family.

Nothing unusual for anybody, right? Nothing unusual for me, either. What HAS changed, since I have tried to walk my life in faith and love of Jesus is that I have a different set of tools to react to these. I don't mean just interior prayer, offering up suffering, being meek in the face of insult. I do mean offering to pray for people, telling them that they will be in my prayers. It depends a little on their own faith; I don't want to scare people by offering to remember them during daily Mass. Sometimes I use the euphemism that they will be "in my heart."

What a wonderful set of tools we have in His Love! Casseroles for the sick are all very well, but adding prayer gives them real value!

Thursday, October 07, 2004

The Lady of ladies

At the retreat last week, the retreat mistress asked me if I had a relationship with Mary the Mother of God. I conceded that it was in the very beginning stages, so she recommended a book for me to read.* (Actually, I got that question from a number of the women, so I think God is trying to get something through my skull.)

So it's a treat that today celebrates Our Lady of the Rosary. I have recently returned to the Catholic Church. There are some aspects of the way Mary is regarded and revered in the Church that I am not yet completely comfortable with. (Grammarians, please forgive my trailing preposition.) But I think about the beloved Mother of Jesus, so intimately present at the birth, ministry, suffering and death of her Son, praying for me out of the love that a mother has for her child. I am touched, honored, and I want to thank her. I want her to pray for the people I love who are in need or hurting. I want to know the love that she knows. I want to know Jesus the way she knows Him.

Do I feel like I have a relationship with her? I don't know. It's a start. God's in charge - I'll let Him look after this too.

- - - - - - - - -
* The book that was recommended to me is Introduction to Mary by Mark Miravalle. My good friends at Our Lady of Grace bookstore have ordered it for me. Thanks, Connie.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

May I have the honor of introducing you . . .?

I have never had the privilege of meeting Fr. David Hudgins (of my own Lansing diocese) in person. But his writings and his spirit have won me over. Besides, he's a Michigan fan, adding to his charm. Here's a recent post (actually an extract of something his brother wrote) from his blog The Great Commandment that is worth sharing with all of you:

Most of my life seems so ordinary to me, I don't think twice about it. Then from time to time I'm reminded how many people are fascinated by the priesthood, and want to know what it's really like to be on the inside looking out.

Today's subject is hearing confessions. Ever wondered what it's like to sit on the other side of the screen? Well step on over, and I'll tell you just a little bit. I could never summarize it all in the space of one little blog, but I'll try. If you could sit next to me and listen in, I think you'd discover...

--that most people are saying the exact same things. If you could hear someone else's confession, you'd think it was your own.--that you cannot recognize anyone's voice. With very very few exceptions, of people you know very well, you have no idea who is confessing to you. It really is anonymous.

--that in a very short amount of time, you would hear a sin against every commandment. Yep, all 10. You don't have to hear confessions for long before you feel you have heard it all. Which leads me to my next point...

--that for the life of you, you cannot remember what people say. After a few minutes in the "sin bin", it all sounds the same, and mushes together. In 6 years of hearing confessions, I can probably recall the specific sins of fewer than 10 people...and these were unforgettable, extreme, and very rarely committed sins.

--that you admire people more, not less, when they confess big sins. You think to yourself, "now here's someone who's honest, humble, and truthful. Here's someone who knows who they are, and wants to change." Believe it or not, big sins are beautiful to hear.

--finally, you would find it to be very tiring. Hearing confessions is an intense, emotionally draining experience, requiring constant, unflinching attention, and prudential judgement about what to say (and what not to say). After an hour, you're tired. After 2 hours, you're nerves are beginning to fray. After 3 hours, you can hardly remember your own name. St. John Vianney heard confessions for 18 hours a day. That's what we call "martyrdom on the installment plan.

Well there you have it. So don't be afraid to go to confession. Don't be afraid to say it all, and don't ever worry about what the priest thinks of you. When it comes to confession, the Nike commercials say it best, "just do it." You'll be glad you did.

Monday, October 04, 2004

More on Barack and Alan

In my post below, in which I complained that our local Benedictine university invited notably pro-death Barack Obama to speak without including his opponent, passionately Catholic Alan Keyes, I copied my email complaining that Mr. Keyes was not invited to speak on this "Catholic" campus.

Well, the media got it wrong. Alan Keyes WAS invited to speak, all along, if you can believe them. That's good, but look at the "let's invoke the sainted Cdl. Bernardin" fluff to be found on their website:

The Catholic Church is not a single issue Church. The United States Conference of Bishops reminded us of this official teaching in November, 2002, when they published Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Secretary for the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith recently, also stated that the Catholic Church is not a single issue Church.

What this means is, that as a Catholic, we do not vote for a candidate simply on his/her position on only one issue, whether that issue is: abortion, the war in Iraq, capital punishment, poverty issues, homosexuality, etc.

The late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago expressed this teaching with his beautiful analogy, "a seamless garment." There are many issues which we examine before choosing a candidate: Pro Life issues include, but are not limited to -abortion, capital punishment, stem-cell research, the war in Iraq, homosexual marriages, a living wage job, health care for all, respect for the environment, clean water for all God's children, political and economic policies which promote the common good with the needs of the poor first

In voting, the American Bishops and Cardinal Ratzinger want us to examine all these issues. Again, the Catholic Church is not a single issue Church. The pro-life issues are many.

In the words of Mad Magazine, bleaaagh.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Happy Name Day to Me!

Isn't it wonderful as a Catholic to have our very own personal heroes?

I didn't care for the Victorian sweetness of my patron saint, St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower, for a good hunk of my life, but, by God's Grace, I've come to realize that it was my own worldly revulsion of the innocent, the deliberately helpless and pliant, the beautiful humility, that made me feel all over ooky when I read her biography.

I urge you to read The Story of a Soul, her autobiography. Normally, the autobiography of someone who died before she was thirty would be laughable (think Britney Spears). But Therese wrote it under obedience to her superior (her actual sister) and thank God we have it. If the first chapter of her childhood reminiscences is too sweet (and golly, it's sugary) for you, read parts two and three and then go back and read the first part. When you get a good grasp of her clear-headed, feminine, passionate love for Jesus and how she determined her "Little Way" of cheerful patience, enduring love in the face of pettiness and hurt, courage in illness and opposition, the first part falls into place very nicely.

St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, thank you for causing my parents to name me after you! Help me to be simple, to take a straight path of love instead of detouring through hurt feelings or pride or irritation.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Uh oh, it's that "Dignity" word

Our company just informed us that we will be receiving MANDATORY "Dignity and Respect in the Company" training. The word "diversity" showed up in the same sentence.

I'm not looking forward to this. Our participation is required and monitored. I bet we have to sign something.

As a Catholic Christian, I must and strive to respect and love all my brothers and sisters because Jesus died to free all of us from sin, and to open the gates of Heaven to all. But I'm guessing that I will be required to "celebrate" diverse lifestyles that I cannot approve of.

I've already refused to participate in United Way contributions because they support abortion providers in many states and women's shelters who refer women to abortion providers in my state in particular. That's only garnered mild disappointment from the boss, who got leaned on for full staff participation.

Probably borrowing trouble, but...... anybody had any experience with this in their jobs?

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Letting our voices be heard

Maybe it's a contagious disease I've gotten from the blog world, but I am writing more emails in protest to companies for their support of abortion, or promoting the radical gay agenda, or hosting stupid radio shows that encourage sex acts in Catholic cathedrals. Sometimes I worry that I'm a crank, and sometimes I feel like a useful squeaking wheel.

I picked up the fact that Barack Obama, the keynote speaker of the Democratic convention, who is running for Senate in my home state of Illinois, has been invited to speak at "Catholic" Benedictine University in suburban Lisle, Illinois. I found the "contact us" location on their website and fired off this, hopefully polite, note:

I am horrified to hear that you have invited pro-abort, pro-gay-marriage Barack Obama to speak at your Catholic university. Please don't expect me to believe that you are inviting him in the interests of "hearing from the candidates," or you would be inviting Alan Keyes as well.

I am happy to know that, little by little, "Catholic" schools who ignore Church teachings are being revealed by their actions, making it easy to know where to place our children and our support.

Please reconsider this invitation, at least extending the invitation to BOTH candidates for the Senate.

NOTE: Alan Keyes, the Republican candidate, was a last minute jump-in after the prior candidate resigned over embarassing revelations about his first marriage. Alan has been stepping on his tongue a lot, but speaking with passion and courage about the hard moral issues facing Illinois and the nation. He's being ignored and vilified in the state, and I feel sorry for him.

I hope all of us are making complaints, making our voices heard. Even telling our friends our positions, sometimes the hardest challenge of all. So much easier to be silent.......

Friday, September 17, 2004

Giving and receiving and Love

Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body is an amazing work. I'm currently reading Christopher West's exposition and commentary titled The Theology of the Body Explained. I am wowed and inspired on almost every page.

Today, this grabs me about the nuptial nature of our relationship with God.
This is the language of the nuptial embrace: "I give myself totally to you, all that I am without reservation. Sincerely. Freely. Forever. And I receive the gift of yourself that you give to me. I bless you. I affirm you. All that you are, without reservation. Forever." This is an experience of being chosen by eternal Love.

He's talking about sexual union in marriage. And a person's union with God. The free giving and receiving without fear, without restriction, full of love -- and Love.

I refuse to let my mind get away with reducing this to metaphor. If I don't experience this as characteristic of my relationship with God, then there's more for me. It's not aspirational -- it's descriptive, both of marriage and of Marriage. Between a husband and wife, between Christ and his Bride.

I want it. God, please take me seriously about this. Fix what needs fixing, change what needs changing, but please don't let me settle for a mere shadow of what's possible.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Prayer needed to avoid ham-handed evangelization

Most times, an opportunity for evangelism to non-Catholics surprises you. But I just got handed one that won't happen until Saturday. Suggestions and prayer needed to keep me on the right track....

A cousin is being married on Saturday. She and her fiance are Catholic, but when the Catholic Church they approached for the marriage asked them to participate in a Catholic life and to join the parish, they took that as an insult and flounced off to be married in a Baptist church instead. They are lovely young people and I am sad that they won't at this time be a part of the parish in question, a dynamic, growing, devout one.

They decided, because it's someone's favorite piece, to have Ave Maria played during their lighting of the "Unity Candle." Today, three days before the wedding, the organist refused to play it out of religious discomfort, although the pastor had (oddly, I think) consented. The couple has turned to my brother and me, who will play and sing it during the service.

I looked around the Internet and found a relatively succinct defense specifically aimed at Baptists about Catholic teaching on Mary and printed it out. Made two copies, in case the organist AND the pastor want one. I'm going to pray and be as charming as I can possibly be without ticking off the musician who will be playing my cousin's wedding music, and offer to clear up any misconceptions he has about Catholic belief. Yeesh.

If you told me three years ago that I'd prepare for a musical performance by handing out tracts to defend my faith, I'd have offered to be your designated driver.

Mary, Mother of Sorrows, pray for me!

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Tremendous surprises

Today is the feast of the Triumph of the Cross; you can nod your thanks in its direction or get lost in the depths of its wonderfulness. Let's choose the latter. Jesus chose the cross at his Father's request, and we are the beneficiaries. We were separated irrevocably from God by the folly of our own choices with no way to bridge the gap. Jesus became the bridge. Jesus didn't just talk about mercy; through Him God showed mercy, he rained down mercy, he became mercy.

I have a friend, a Jehovah's Witness, who is confused about many aspects of orthodox Christian belief, but who has an especially difficult time with the fact that the cross is so significant a Christian symbol. Why, she asks, would you give such prominence to the instrument of torture that put Jesus to death?

I've never been completely satisfied with the answers I've given her. Today, I read this as part of my morning prayer and thought of her:
The cross, instrument of torture and death, raised aloft as a sign of glory, continues to confound the wisdom of this world. God's work of salvation stands human expectations on their head: humility is exaltation, wounds are healing, death is life.

This is the economy of God. In the middle of death, decay, winter, discouragement, politics, disgrace, scandal and sin, all the promises of God find their Yes in Christ (cf. 2Cor 1). In the midst of death, we are in life. We do not hope in princes, armies, wealth, talents, good fortune, intelligence, savvy or interpersonal skills. We place our hope in the Lord our God, who not only can bring glorious life out of nothing, but has done it and continues to do it for our sake and His glory.

How can you help loving Someone like that?

Monday, September 13, 2004

A parenthetical note

All I can say is "wow". A secular film reviewer has changed his opinion of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ in a big way. Click here to read. (Kudos to Robert of Santficarnos for picking this up.)

By the way, thank you Therese for giving me a copy of the DVD. I have it with me on this trip.

Update: The film reviewer, Michael Coren, discusses his recent return to the Catholic Church after 10 years as a heartfelt and orthodox evangelical Protestant. I must say, I'm surprised to find such worthwhile reading in the Toronto Sun. Way to go, O Canada.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Aching for the pain of others

I have a dear friend who is going through hard times. They have been difficult for, literally, years. She knows and loves God, and these challenges are deepening and strengthening her, but the bottom keeps falling out of the little pieces of hope that come up.

I am baffled at what God's purposes might be in such a prolonged time of discouragement and difficulty. Every once in a while, I realize that I can't know what God's purposes are (though we are often blessed by glimpses of how all things work for the good for those who love God). I would probably not appreciate His purposes if I knew them.

But what I want is to be able to comfort and encourage my friend. I grasp at earthly encouragements -- things have to turn around soon, thank God your children are so wonderful, I'm with you if you need me -- when it is the Holy Spirit's encouragements that will truly strengthen her. He is the Comforter, the Consoler, the One in whom is all God's love and care, and who lives inside her, never to leave.

Oh God, help me say the things that will help her to see your face, not just my good will and friendship. Less of me, more of You.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

I hadn't noticed the holiness before

I ran into a guy from church at the gas station. I know him by reputation as a good, generous, holy man, on fire for the faith. I've never talked to him directly about his love for the Lord, because we're usually buzzing by each other at a parish event.

Today, as I shot the breeze with him, I realized I could see the gleam of kindness and serenity in his eyes. We again didn't talk about faith issues, but his gentleness and strength and Christian friendliness were evident.

When I was busy playing games with the Church, come here come here go away go away, what on earth did I think of people like him? I'm afraid I may have only noticed a lame suit or a bad haircut or a sense of humor or an interesting brain.

Does faith reveal faith in others?

(and the corollary: do I have that gleam? I gotta get it if I don't.....)

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Behold the Lammagod!

That's what the sweet college-aged girl who sits behind me at morning Mass every Tuesday clearly says at the Agnus. I forget she's going to do it each week, so I'm not distracted by waiting for it. It adds a smile to my Hosanna.

She sits very close to me, and it startled me when she started coming, great big church and she pulls in right behind me, right over my shoulder. But this morning, it reminds me of when I started back to daily Mass after a long, confused, sinful absence. I've done waves of daily Mass since college, stopping and starting without purpose or understanding, moved by God's Grace but not very interested in His Way.

The other times I always sat so far back I was in another zip code. I observed Mass more than participated in it. It reflected the life I was trying to live, near God but not too near.

This round (no, this beginning, because I can't see how this could stop) I sat nearer the front, mostly because I was trying to move an effective distance from a yawner who was very damaging to the concentration. I moved up, up, up the pews until I found a place to stop.

If you're sitting too far back or too far over, move up! You don't have to sit in the front row, no need to look right up Father's nose, but maybe consider your moving a symbol for your moving closer to the Heart of Christ.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

The upside-down smoke and the shoes under the bed

Somebody in my office wears a rubber band around their wrist as some sort of memory jogger. I don't know them well enough to ask why, but it reminded me of something from ancient college days.

I first met God personally in college. I had a true "conversion experience" on December 10, 1978, when He made Himself known to me as a real Father Who really knew who I was and loved me. I reacted like any college student; I bumbled around trying three things at once. I went to daily Mass for awhile at the student Catholic center, but backed away from the over-friendly people; I read and read and READ (but I didn't think to pray and pray and PRAY); and I brought up the topic of religion among my friends, all of whom with me were science majors.

Oddly, all my closest college friends were either Catholics or Jews, some quite devout. We ended up having some rip-roaring discussions (although in college, everything gets rip-roaring at one point or another). One girl, trying to keep her walk of faith present to her daily, did something to make her aware; she turned the first cigarette around in her pack so it faced up. Every time she looked in her pack for a cigarette, she saw the reversed cigarette and tried to thank God.

(Please control your retching about the cigarettes; we ALL smoked then, everywhere. Times have changed, my children.)

In the domino effect of memory, this reminded me of another trick my second grade nun taught us. Put your shoes way under the bed before you go to sleep. Then, when you get up and get dressed, you have to look for your shoes. When you get down on your knees to fish them out, pray while you're down there. A sweet memory. Thank you, Sr. Willia.

What do you do to keep yourself mindful of Him?

Sunday, August 08, 2004

It is good for us to be here

This week the Church calendar offered us an opportunity to reflect on the Transfiguration, an event which I admit I have never spent that much time thinking about. Partly, I don't understand it. Partly, I suffer from some of the personal exuberance that Peter displays here, to his embarrassment and (by extrapolation) mine. But I saw something different this time around.

A short summary: Jesus takes Peter, James and John up a mountain to pray. While Jesus is praying, his face becomes radiant and his clothes turn dazzlingly white. This, as you can imagine, gets the disciples' attention, and they are astonished to see that Elijah and Moses are talking with Jesus, also glorious in appearance. Peter utters perhaps one of his most profound statements ever -- "It is good for us to be here" -- and then instantly jumps to the mistaken conclusion that what's needed is for him to leap into action -- "Let's build three booths in tribute to you, Moses and Elijah." At this point, God the Father who is clearly determined to drive home His point, engulfs them in a cloud from which a voice echoes: "This is my chosen Son; listen to him."

What if we were to look at this passage from the point of view, not of the disciples, but of Moses or Elijah? The Old Testament teaches us that they were used powerfully by God, Moses to prepare the way for the law, and Elijah to prepare the way for the Messiah. Here, finally, they get to see the Word made Man with their very eyes as God fulfills his will in a way more magnificent than they could have possibly guessed. Jesus is transfigured; Moses and Elijah get to share in the reflected glory of the Son. It is God the Son's glory, not theirs.

But Jesus had not yet taken the sin of the world upon himself. Moses and Elijah, like Peter, James and John are waiting, for what they cannot even guess. While we are yet sinners, God is preparing to do more than we can ask or imagine in order to bring us into union with Him. What the disciples see on Mount Tabor is a preview of what will happen to us. We will all be changed. Jesus' glory will be clearly reflected in us as he finishes what he set out to do.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Don't pay the ransom

I haven't been kidnapped. I think my sister blogger is in the same boat, but work has overwhelmed my life right now. I am trying to keep my prayer life from becoming the shambles my personal life is at the moment. Just because my refrigerator only contains a lemon, one raw egg and some very old milk doesn't mean that my spiritual life should, too, and Mass nearly every day has helped.

I'm trying to discern a lesson in this overload of work, some just a part of life, some unfairly imposed by a panicky boss. It's pretty easy to see how I can walk more closely with Christ when I am emotionally neglected or attacked or misunderstood or rejected. But how can I find the Cross in a big old pile of paperwork on my desk, a work pace that threatens to cause a mistake with someone else's (major) money, and deadlines running up and smacking me in the face? I have to look at people who distract and hurt me with the love that the Lord gives to me and to them, but work?  You can't love work, so how can you grow in this challenge?


Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Body and soul

Tomorrow is the feast of St. Mary Magdalene (this blog product links differently, so, sorry, no links, look her up yourself). To all those sillies who say the Church has suppressed her "true" story (such as the Dumb-Vinci idea that she married Jesus, or at least shacked up with him), I say pfeh.

What I especially love about this saint is that, no matter what the actual facts of her sinful life before she met Jesus, her few recorded words and actions in Scripture are those of a woman passionately in love. The sensualists of today presume that therefore she must have acted sexually in response, but we know as Christians that she loved Jesus with all her soul. Interestingly, another place I hear such passionate love glowing in Scripture is in many of the psalms of David.

The transforming power of God didn't rob her of her passion! Her former life may have been all about the passions of the body, but after she met Him, she didn't have to change; she was still passionate, but it was the passion of the soul, the Bride, for its Bridegroom. 

One of the choices of the first Mass reading for the day is this

Upon my bed by night I sought him whom my soul loves;
I sought him, but found him not; I called him, but he gave no answer.
"I will rise now and go about the city,in the streets and in the squares;
I will seek him whom my soul loves. "
I sought him, but found him not.
The watchmen found me,as they went about in the city.
"Have you seen him whom my soul loves?"
 Scarcely had I passed them,when I found him whom my soul loves.
Canticle of Canticles 3:1-4 

Lucky me, I'm the lecter. I hope I don't cry.

UPDATE: Now my brain insists on singing the 1940's standard "Body and Soul." I grew up hearing relatives with a couple of Manhattans in them choosing this number to sing around the piano (only because our piano was too small to climb up on, or they would have done a Helen Morgan). Here're the lyrics. Some of them work kind of well as prayer, don't they?

My heart is sad and lonely
For you I sigh, for you dear only
Why haven't you seen it
I'm all for you body and soul
I spend my days in longin'
And wondering why it's me you're wronging
I tell you I mean it
I'm all for you body and soul
I can't believe it
It's hard to conceive it
That you turn away romance
Are you pretending
It looks like the ending
Unless I could have one more chance to prove, dear
My life a wreck you're making
You know I'm yours for just the taking
I'd gladly surrender myself to you body and soul
My life a wreck you're making
You know I'm yours for just the taking
I would gladly surrender myself to you body and soul

(composed by Paul Whiteman, Johnny Green et al)

Monday, July 19, 2004

Will and sin

I kept running across EWTN Live while watching TV last week. It featured Fr. Thomas Dubay as the guest talking about a new series he filmed called "Deep Conversion/Deep Prayer." During his conversation with Fr. Pacwa, they discussed, in response to audience questions, the difference between emotions and will in reference to sin.
In summary, a felt emotion is not a sin. A willed dwelling on it can become sin, as well as the acting-out of the emotion. So, I can feel impatient, and snap at someone. Sin. I can feel impatient, and think murderous thoughts about the person, reviewing the "shoulda woulda coulda's" of how I think the conversation should have gone. Sin. Or I can feel impatient and set it aside or offer it up or blow it off. No sin.
I realized a mistake I've been making lately. While I'm at least mature enough not to ask God to make the other person not so thoroughly irritating (!), I have not asked God for help to recognize the emotion and deal with it internally, instantly and in charity. Instead, I have been asking Him to make me not impatient. It's as though I feel unable to control the progression of emotion-to-will-to-action.
Better it would be if I would recognize that I will be impatient, and to see it, smile at it (internally, or I'd be smiling like a loon all day) and set it aside in gratitude for the Peace that passeth all understanding. 

How do you short-circuit that path in yourself?


Friday, July 16, 2004

Coals of Kindness

Here's a puzzle in Christian charity for you:
Somebody has been unfairly short, sharp and crabby to me. Trying to emulate my patron saint, I've tried to speak mildly and kindly in return, with some success. 
At the same time, I have piles of kind things I have done for this person, that I think they've forgotten were coming,  ready to unload over the weekend. That will chap their hide big time and will probably make them even sharper and crabbier in guilt and retaliation.  Humanly speaking, it also won't hurt my ego any to be the giver of so many good deeds, but since I didn't set up the situation, I can give them freely and cheerfully and step back and watch the effect. Right? Wrong?
Somewhere in there is sin.
I don't know how to change this pattern. I am tempted to hold back the good deeds, so that the bad behavior can be ignored, passed by without my giving in to returning bite for bite. But shouldn't I be able to give what I already had ready to give? How can I avoid the smugness that will come with the giving?
Solve that, my friends!

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Which yoke was that, again?

Today's gospel reading is a doozy --
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

Well, I'm surrounded by yokes. Which yoke is Jesus' yoke? There are a couple of good ways to answer that question:

1) It's the yoke he tells me about, revealing it either through direct revelation or through Scripture.
2) Even better, it's the yoke that I see him already shouldering. It's like trying to deduce which is my friend's car -- it's the car where I see him sitting behind the wheel.

But how do I avoid the seduction of taking on yokes that aren't His? There are lots of good yokes out there, things that are good and beneficial to do. But it's important for me to stay away from yokes that are assigned to someone else (ah, the pride of supposing that everything is up to me). It's also important to steer clear of yokes that God wants to shoulder on His own. Again, I fall into believing that if I see a need, it's up to me to fill it, even if it's something that only God can do.

Easy to say. How do I know, in this "more is better" culture, what to stay away from so I have the resources to do what God is really sending my way?

Monday, July 12, 2004

Happy Mass faces

I have nothing very original to say this early morning, but to record the joy I see in the faces of those around me as we come out of morning Mass together. Old wrinkly people, young (touchingly young) people, solemn and pious people, jolly and reverent people, it makes no difference. There's a special glow resting on the ordinary faces of ordinary people after they've deeply participated in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

I could have kissed every one of them, probably causing several deaths from astonishment......

Thursday, July 08, 2004

St. Maria Goretti: my tastes must be changing

Tuesday was the feast day of St. Maria Goretti, the teenager who resisted rape to the point of being stabbed to death.

We've all seen the pious pictures and holy cards and I find them kind of ickily done. Eyes are always rolled up to Heaven, no muscle, no pores in the skin. Too pastel and perfect.

But her story is starting to grab me big time. Not that I have any purity left to protect, but I am moved by the report that she is said to have cried out to her attacker, "No, don't do it, it's a sin!" She was actually concerned about him committing a sin, possibly more than the danger to herself.

The heroic bravery of our saints and martyrs, facing ridicule, harassment, persecution, danger, pain, terror and death! Stop a moment and consider what they did, for the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

How good and pleasant it is . . .

Well, in one of those sequences that only happen in a wired world, the two authors of this blog finally made one anothers' acquaintance face to face during the July 4 weekend.

After much anticipation and many phone calls, Therese and I (and Henry of A Plumbline in the Wind) got together in the Chicago suburbs. In fact, we managed to show our faces in several of them, since we gabbed and experienced the Communion of the several Saints together in one town; and went to Therese's parish for Sunday Mass in another one (intersecting more Saints, come to think of it).

There's nothing like getting together with people with whom you share faith. I highly recommend it, even for reserved and retiring types. (I'm told that it was great for our reserved participant, but I certainly can't speak as a representative of that group.) There was plenty of regular getting-to-know-you conversation, but the refreshing bulk of the time consisted of recounting the goodness of God in our lives. Thank you, Therese, for sharing and listening. It was worthy of having a stone erected as at the Jordan; we have been here, and we will remember what God has done.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

What was that, again?

Sometimes I wonder if I really listen to God's perspective on how to live. It is astounding.

* It is better for us that Jesus went away, because he was then able to send the Holy Spirit to be our guide and consolation.

* We don't have to worry about having enough to eat or the things we need to live, because God loves us like a father, and will see to it that we are cared for.

* We his people will do greater works than we saw Jesus do.

* It's a waste of effort to try to protect my own life, because the one who loses his life is the one who saves it. It's not up to me.

* If we throw our cares and worries on God, we will see first hand how He cares for us, really and personally.

* There is forgiveness. That deserves to be capitalized - Forgiveness. Bad things get made new. God plucks them out of our backpacks. He kneads them into diamonds, then He puts them back in. What did we do to deserve such generosity? Exactly nothing. In fact, all our efforts to earn it just get in the way. It's a very non-capitalist economy, isn't it?

* * * * * * *

I don't have any profound reflections on these snippets. It just strikes me that I should be astounded every day when I wake up to this reality.

Amazing. Grace.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

The Consolations of Oz

If you have a growing prayer life, spending more time, more love, more attention on the things of the Lord, do you find that your experiences of the presence of God have changed over that time?

When I first met the Lord, as it were, in 1978, I was often in awe at His Creation, transfixed by nature's beauty. I sometimes could be in a crowd of people, and see Him in their hearts, which made them very dear to me. I wasn't much of a pray-er at the time, not really knowing how, not having any good examples around me (nor seeking any, to be honest) and being convinced that it was my job to re-design Catholicism so it fit me (and you know how well that went).

These last few years, I've embraced my identity as a faithful daughter of His Church, and participated in ALL the Sacraments (particularly including Confession). I've stopped picking and choosing. God Bless God, I've been given by His Grace some beautiful gifts in prayer. But I don't have any of the early experiences anymore.

I was pining for some of them recently, and after I shook myself out of it ("Seek not the consolations of God, but the God of consolations," I think St. Teresa of Avila said), I got an idea: remember that scene in the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy opens the door of the crashed house? She is standing in that sepia world and looks out into the beautiful world of Oz, and the colors are deep and vibrant. Viewing that, no matter how many times, gives me happy goose pimples. After she steps out into Oz, she and we marvel at the colors and life around her. But a few minutes later, we don't even notice that she's in color now, we're caught up in the story instead.

That's us, isn't it? Is it too literal to say that we cross a boundary into His Life, and become immersed in it and then can't identify an old life any more?

Monday, June 28, 2004

Heaven as Pleasure Palace

Sometimes we forget that Scripture tells that "at [God's] right hand are pleasures forevermore." (Psalm 16:11)

"Yeah, right," we say. The pleasures of harp-playing, or the satisfaction of a job well done or the pleasure that comes from owning up to it when we have offended someone -- but real pleasures?

I had the honor of pleasing someone this weekend. I know it's true. And it was wonderful. The delights of making someone happy, of giving honor where honor is due, seeing a broad smile that can't be stopped, are amazing.

I might have gotten tied up into myself, I suppose. "Am I doing this for the other person or for my own satisfaction?" Well, balderdash. I may never know the depths of my own motivations, so I choose not to care. I'll let God be in charge of purifying my motives and my heart.

In the meantime, He allowed me to share in what must be one of the most fun parts of His job. I got to be part of blessing someone with happiness. It's intoxicating. How can people stop themselves from doing this sort of thing all the time? Apparently, God feels the same way. "At His right hand are pleasures forevermore."

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Ugly pants

This is weighing on my conscience, and will be told at my next confession, but listen, my children, and you may hear something that you've done:

Yesterday, I was riding in an elevator alone. The cab doors are mirrors, so I expected to have a 30-floor chance to sorrow over my contours and make faces at myself. I got on, the doors closed, and I was astounded to realize I was wearing just about the ugliest pants in Illinois. I had no idea that they were that U.G.L.Y. Laugh-and-point ugly. Why-didn't-my-friends-tell-me-they-were-so ugly?

I spent the rest of the day very sensitive to how bad I looked from the waist down. Got home, put'em in the wash and figured they'd go into the donation bag, from which they may travel to a poor person, who will put them on and make them explode into loveliness.

Funny, right? But this morning, after daily Mass, with Jesus barely past my hands and mouth, and supposedly in my heart, I went through the bank drive-through. Some idiot driver came through the narrow exit lane and stopped. I had to back WAAAAAAY up around a curve to let them through. I made one of those exasperated, eye-rolling faces, set my mouth grimly and impatiently jerked the car back, popping up onto a curb, which increased my pissed-off-ness. Then I looked at the other driver. I know her.....from church.....she and her husband are lovely, gentle, holy people.

We opened our windows and I immediately apologized for making a nasty face at her. She of course was all apologies for confusing the lanes. I waved goodbye and slid low in my seat in what, thankfully, was humble humiliation more than simple angry embarassment.

My soul's equivalent of ugly pants. The fact that it was someone I knew, and was therefore accountable to, is not the point. She is just as much the Lord's child as I, and in stark fact, much more His loving child than I. But up to that minute, I had no idea that Driver Dramatics were so un-Godly. Forgive me, Lord.

Rebelling, serving, arguing, loving, forgiving

In the daily Mass readings, we're going through some detail-heavy and action-packed parts of the old Testament right now. Prophets are lecturing kings, and God is smiting everyone, practically. Lots of rebellion, haircloth, idolatry and penitence: busy, busy, busy.

We're also going through a lot of teaching from Jesus. How to pray, how to give alms, how to forgive, how to do lots of things with His Spirit. Gentle, stern, glowing words.

The contrast in the two reading streams is interesting: on the one hand, people in the Old Testament just weren't getting it. People in the New Testament weren't getting it, either, but God's response and teaching is different.

In the OT, God asked His people to follow His commandments. When they didn't, God got their full attention, dramatically so. The relationship was sort of immature (no, God was not immature, we were): we misbehave and God yells at us. We do it again, and He yells louder.

In the NT, Jesus, God incarnate, explains it where we can see it. He is the model of ALL love, which, since He is Love, is right. He is the Spouse of our soul, and of the Church. He is our Brother. He refers us to the fatherhood of God. He is our Teacher, our Healer, our Shepherd. Every one of those relationships exist in our own human lives, and He models how we are to handle them. It's a fully-faceted, three-dimensional model that we can turn in our hands and examine.

It's as though the yelling parent God of the OT, now thoroughly exasperated, grabs the SOS pad and the dirty pot, scours it, thrusts it at us, and says "THIS is how you wash a dish!" We have to see it happen to understand it.

The infinite patience and love of God!

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Tiptoeing through Reformed theology

Before my recent reversion to the Catholic Church, I spent several years in fellowship with many faithful God-loving brothers and sisters in Christ in two Evangelical Presbyterian churches. As I discuss my faith walk with various friends, I've found that Catholic and Reformed theology are each frequently misunderstood by adherents of the other.

Here's a link to a very readable essay by Jimmy Akin which discusses the foundation of Reformed Calvinist principles in light of what Catholics believe. Two things are especially worth noting:

** Each set of beliefs is sometimes discussed using a shorthand terminology (e.g. "Total Depravity", Mary as "Mediatrix") that can foster serious misunderstanding unless the fullness of the concept is understood as it is intended. This presents opportunities for charity, assumptions of good will, and willingness to learn on everyone's part.

** I was startled at how much actual overlap there is between the underpinnings of Catholic and Reformed beliefs. Check it out and see if you agree.

As an extra added bonus, here's Mark Shea on Is Sacramental Grace Magic?

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Rock solid

Today is the feast day of St. Thomas More who loved his family and loved his king, but God over all. He's known to most of my contemporaries from the excellent 1966 film A Man for All Seasons, in which he is said to elegantly confront his betrayer with "Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world... but for Wales?"

It pleases me that he is the patron of politicians, step-parents, difficult marriages, large families and lawyers. He must love to intercede, because he's got his work cut out for him.

This line is from a letter he wrote from prison to his daughter: "Although I know well, Margaret, that because of my past wickedness I deserve to be abandoned by God, I cannot but trust in his merciful goodness." May we all be blessed with the grace to follow his example in our trials, however petty or however great.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Youthful faith

This started out as a comment on Therese's preceding post on "saints who blazed up early". As I reached the third paragraph, I decided to give it more space.


I've never found myself particularly drawn to examples of early zeal, probably because I was such an example of early lukewarmth. But it's good to think about those struck by early and thorough grace.

I know a number of teens whose faith and devotion to God are incredibly edifying. Thinking about your post has made me realize that part of me subconsciously waits for the other shoe to drop, because I didn't see any such mature examples of youthful devotion while I was growing up. I'm waiting for the rebellion that so many parents (good ones as well as weak) encounter in their teenagers. But I could spew out name after name of young people I know (and some I was privileged to give birth to) who could take me to school when it comes to genuine faith and a well-formed conscience. And I've seen at least some of them persevere thorough some genuine difficulties that would stretch the faith of many an adult.

Cautionary note: They are still young people, after all. It's pretty amusing some times to see strong faith and adolescent decision-making in the same kid. I guess parents aren't going to become redundant any time soon.

Giving it all, bud, flower and fruit

Today is the feast day of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, a young Jesuit who died of the plague that he contracted while taking care of the poor. His innocence and purity are stressed strongly in the Mass prayers of the day, and I thought about the beauty of the younger saints, those who died under the age of 25. St. Aloysius and my patroness, St. Therese of Lisieux were two of a kind. They had all the energy and over-the-top passion of that age, the teens through the early twenties, and used it to love God as only people that age can. Their writings and sayings are almost embarassingly affectionate, intimate and loving; I sometimes have to turn my eyes away from such transparency, such glowing love.

Compare the older saints, St. Teresa of Avila or St. Augustine. St. Teresa, who entered religious life young, lived in comfort and gabby popularity for a long time before she had a conversion of heart. St. Augustine lived it up for years, until his mother's prayers and the power of the Holy Spirit knocked him to his knees. Their writings reflect their battles, their knowledge of the world, their understanding of the weaknesses and failures of others.

Both sets of saints are equally holy, I'm not setting up a scale. But they bring a different passion to their love of the Lord and we need both kinds as examples.

Help me think of other saints who blazed up early and died young. I am very attracted to them, probably as contrast to the scratched, bug-covered windshield through which I view the Lord and His Mercy.

Friday, June 18, 2004

A "studly" Mystery - Finding Jesus in the Temple

I'm speculating on a Mystery that I think would especially touch the heart of men: losing, then finding Jesus in the Temple. I know that I as a woman can meditate on this Mystery and review the pain of losing touch with Jesus in my life, the surprise of assuming Jesus is with you when He's not, the surety of being able to find Him in the sacraments, in Church.

But men have a natural protective and guarding instinct that I think would make them dwell on the terror Joseph and Mary must have felt. The searching, the feeling of loss of control, the threat of failed parenthood. Men don't even have to be parents to exercise this guardianship.

Is this indeed a "studly" Mystery?

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Sending it 'round again

Just to keep the kettle boiling, here's a link to my previous post on the visitation between Mary and Elizabeth. Therese's and my minds clearly run in similar channels, though the adjective "great" to describe them might be a bit of a stretch.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

The "girly" Mysteries - The Visitation

When I pray the Joyful Mysteries, I'm sometimes struck by the intensely feminine spirituality of them. Not to the exclusion of men, but there is a special dimension accessible to women's understanding, I think.

One of the most notable is the Mystery of the Visitation. Mary, now pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit, but not married, goes, maybe even flees, to visit her relative Elizabeth in a distant town. Elizabeth, with some surprise, finds herself pregnant at an age where she must have lost hope. So we have two bemused women (holy does not stop bemusement, I'm sure) who come together, who visit.

A beautiful line in Scripture: "the babe in Elizabeth's womb leaped for joy." I have such a vivid picture of two women, laughing, crying, hugging, praising God. Elizabeth was the first to recognize the presence of the Lord in Mary's womb. I am sure Mary found comfort with her cousin, safety, understanding. They also probably did a little cooking, a little sewing, told each other which neckline or hairstyle looked best on the other. Why not? They were women!

Do we recognize the presence of Christ in the hearts of our friends? Do we fully participate in God's particular love for that friend? That can be done in the context of shopping for bathing suits (a chance to exercise the virtue of mercy), or writing out recipes, or gabbing on the phone. Do we want the highest and best for our friends? When we do, I think we know that by observing the results, whether we are yet people of faith or not. But, knowing that Jesus loves you in a very specific way through me, makes me more careful of your soul, more vigilant for your salvation.

How beautiful to be a woman of God.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Window into heaven

This Sunday was the feast of Corpus Christi -- celebrating the absolute reality of Jesus' presence with us and self-offering to us in the Eucharist. I'm speechless with awe, and those who know me will acknowledge that it doesn't happen often.

As I look at the consecrated host and cup, I wish I had eyes that could see through into the reality of God's act of offering on the other side. It feels like a pinhole - I know the fullness is over there, but I can't quite make it out. Maybe some day it will be a larger window and then a massive door through which I will be able to not only see, but walk.

In the meantime, I am full of gratitude.

What a gift.

Reading our way to Heaven?

We're told not to multiply our prayers, and I'm often guilty in the middle of distracting life, of thinking that if I say one more Rosary or say one more prayer, that I will have paid "enough" attention to things of the Spirit.

I went to a huge used book sale over the weekend and stocked up on all sorts of books, including theology and saint's lives and such. Does that pile of books now waiting to be read indicate my holiness? I'm afraid there're times I think so. They can become idols themselves, and saying that you've read them an occasion for pride.

What do you do? Read and study and work to know God, or be still and know God, or examine all the faces around you to try and find God, or...? I see why spiritual direction would be darn handy. I'll pray for the right balance in my life, and the right attention, and the right recollection (see below).

Is there a good reading plan out there for lay Catholics?

Friday, June 11, 2004

Finding recollection

Recollection is “the attention to the presence of God in the soul.” When work gets really frenetic and I try to re-center my life in Christ, I’m reminded of that organization The Society For The Prevention, Diagnosis, Prognosis and Treatment of Attention Deficit Hey Let’s Go Ride Our Bikes....

Yesterday was hell at work day. Deadlines were coming, passing, hit or missed. I was forever asking, wheedling, explaining, praising, cajoling and demanding. It just didn’t stop. Finally I tore my attention from my not-important-to-the-world but very frenetic work for five minutes to bolt down lunch, which was my breakfast bagel never eaten. I managed to remember to say the Angelus, but it was mentally barked out with a certain grimness and I felt the need to write something on my calendar mid-Hail Mary, and did so.

It’s better that we praise God even in the midst of bustle and hassle, than waiting “until later” which often never comes. But I’d like to get my heart and mind in a better place when I do it, and I know that doesn’t mean requiring a hushed cathedral, dimly lit by flickering candles.

How do you recollect yourself? How can you tell if you’re recollected?

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Things just keep getting better

It's a pure pleasure to offer an enthused welcome to Therese Z, my new co-blogger. Therese is a holy, witty, wholehearted woman with a gift for snappy insight and heart. We have -- as you might expect in this virtual world -- never met, something we intend to set right as soon as possible.

Enjoy getting to know her as I have.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

God loves the cheerful, joyful and grateful (as well as the rest of us)

A charming fellow blogger, Nârwen Lewis has excellent taste in saints. She is a big fan of a holy man who deserves it, the Venerable John Henry Newman, as well as the full-of-joy St. Philip Neri whose feast is celebrated today in the Catholic calendar. (Joining this theme of joy that I appreciate so much, my favorite St. Teresa of Avila calls out: "From somber, serious, sullen saints, save us, O Lord!")

As I was perusing Nârwen's writings, I came across a wonderful litany she has written, part of which I've extracted below. I want to observe her cautions that this is for private use only. But isn't it inspiring?

Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of heaven,
Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God,
Have mercy on us.
. . .
From all pride, deliver us, Lord Jesus.
From lack of charity, deliver us, Lord Jesus.
From putting ourselves first, deliver us, Lord Jesus.
From brooding over our faults, deliver us, Lord Jesus.
From scruples and sadness, deliver us, Lord Jesus.
From taking ourselves too seriously, deliver us, Lord Jesus.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.


May Christ graciously hear you and me, and may He bless you in every way that matters most.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

What do daily Mass and the Wall Street Journal have in common?

I've rarely made exercise a regular part of my life. I wimp out well before the point where (I'm told) one experiences being energized and healthy rather than simply exhausted with a tight band across one's chest. I've had friends who actually feel deprived on days when they miss exercise. I am alternately baffled and envious.

But I understand the principle. As a business school student, I read the Wall Street Journal every day. I can't say that any one day's reading made me feel particularly more educated, enlightened or full of (jargon alert!) business acumen. But my daily dose of WSJ gradually gave me an overall awareness of the business environment, industries, international trends, and principles that gave me more smarts over time.

I'm reminded of this experience as I grow in making daily attendance at Mass a regular practice. I can't point to any particular time I've received Jesus in the Eucharist that was overwhelmingly and specifically distinctive. But every day, hearing the word of God, participating in the congregational responses, kneeling and making the sign of the cross as evidence even to myself that something different is going on here, and most of all putting the host on my tongue and the chalice to my lips -- these are exercising power in my life.

I don't go because I ought to go. I go because I want to go. And I want to go . . . because I go. Being fed increases the hunger. Being hungry increases the satisfaction and fulfillment. I don't understand it. But I keep going back. I want more of Jesus. I want Him to have more of me, if He'll have me.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Is there a mature way to say "Confession rocks?"

I know, I'm spending too much time among my Young Adults.

The Lord has been been bringing a lot about the Sacrament of Penance into my path. I'm glad. It's one of the aspects of being a reignited Catholic that I didn't expect to find a particular blessing. But it is, deeply.

Today's contribution to my edification was a great piece from the blog The Shrine of the Holy Whapping (What a great name, huh? The essay is titled The Descent of Mount Tabor -- you may have to scroll up for it.)

If you, too, are feeling drawn to the Sacrament and are interested in talking about it with others, check out the discussion over at Plumbline in the Wind.

My favorite Mystery

I've always loved mystery stories. If there weren't an Agatha Christie or Dorothy Sayers next to my bed, you'd find Josephine Tey or Rex Stout.

But I'm talking about a Divine Mystery here. The second Joyful Mystery - the happy visit between Mary and Elizabeth. Two women, each who have known social disgrace because of their childbearing or lack thereof, kinswomen of different generations, take delight in each others' greetings because God is pouring down love and comfort through one another.

I have long loved the verse from Luke, "Blessed is she who believed that the word of the Lord to her would be fulfilled," hoping that this word would be true for me as well. It was always a reminder that my only hope lay in the fulfillment of God's word to me. My own efforts in any other direction would stumble and fall, and good riddance to them, I say. I don't want to go in another direction, however successfully. God, may I please be blessed by faith that your word to me will be fulfilled. Let me imitate Mary and cooperate in whatever it is that you want to do.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Let's get Eucharistic

I've been Catholic all my life, but I've been a practicing Catholic again since March 27, 2004. I left because it seemed like it was the right thing to do. I came back because the grace of God drew me. I've been freshly acquainting myself with the Rosary, Eucharistic Adoration, daily Mass, morning and evening prayer (thanks very much, Magnificat magazine).

I'm rich. Who knew it would be such a blessing?

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Lather, rinse, repeat

I started Blog #1 to be an informal journal to keep up with my friendship network. Lately I've been wanting somewhere to do more thinking, citing, discussing and analysis. That's my intention for this blog. Let's see what develops.


Sample Text

We are grateful ladies with a point of view and a sense of humor. Like-hearted people are welcome. Others, too.

For a glimpse at our lighter side, hop over to In Dwelling.

E-mail us.

Sample text

"There is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being. This much we know."

Pres. Barack Obama, Feb 5, 2009