Tuesday, December 30, 2008


A Christmas Meditation on the Incarnation, for a Troubled World
By Hans Urs von Balthasar

And the angel said to them,
"Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you Good News of a great joy that will come to all the people: for to you is born this day in the city oft David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger" ( Luke 2:10-12).

On Christmas night the shepherds are addressed by an angel who shines upon them with the blinding glory of God, and they are very much afraid. The tremendous, unearthly radiance shows that the angel is a messenger of heaven and clothes him with an incontrovertible authority. With this authority he commands them not to be afraid but to embrace the great joy he is announcing to them. And while the angel is speaking thus to these poor frightened people, he is joined by a vast number of others, who unite in a "Gloria" praising God in heaven's heights and announcing the peace of God's goodwill to men on earth. Then, we read, "the angels went away from them into heaven." In all probability the singing was very beautiful and the shepherds were glad to listen; doubtless they were sorry when the concert was over and the performers disappeared behind heaven's curtain. Probably, however, they were secretly a little relieved when the unwonted light of divine glory and the unwonted sound of heavenly music came to an end, and they found themselves once more in their familiar earthly darkness. They probably felt like shabby beggars who had suddenly been set in a king's audience chamber among courtiers dressed in magnificent robes and were glad to slip away unnoticed and take to their heels.

But the strange thing is that the intimidating glory of the heavenly realm, which has now vanished, has left behind a human glow of joy in their souls, a light of joyous expectation, reinforcing the heavenward-pointing angel's word and causing them to set out for Bethlehem. Now they can turn their backs on the whole epiphany of the heavenly glory for it was only a starting point, an initial spark, a stimulus leading to what was really intended; all that remains of it is the tiny seed of the word that has been implanted in their hearts and that now starts to grow in the form of expectation, curiosity and hope: "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us." They want to see the word that has taken place. Not the angel's word with its heavenly radiance: that has already become unimportant. They want to see the content of the angel's word, that is, the Child, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. They want to see the word that has "happened", the word that has taken place, the word that is not only something uttered but something done, something that can not only be heard but also seen.

Thus the word that the shepherds want to see is not the angel's word. This was only the proclamation (the kerygma, as people say nowadays); it was only a pointer. The angels, with their heavenly authority, disappear: they belong to the heavenly realm; all that remains is a pointer to a word that has been done. By God, of course. Just as it is God who made it known to them through the angels.

So they set off, heaven behind them, and the earthly sign before them. But, Lord, what a sign! Not even the Child, but a child. Some child or other. No special child. Not a child radiating a light of glory, as the religious painters depicted, but on the contrary: a child that looks as 'inglorious as possible. Wrapped in swaddling clothes. So that it cannot move. It lies there, imprisoned, as it were, in the clothes in which it has been wrapped through the solicitude of others. There is nothing elevating about the manger in which it lies, either, nothing even remotely corresponding to the heavenly glory of the singing angels. There is practically nothing even half worth seeing; the destination of the shepherds' nightly journey is the most ordinary scene. Indeed, in its poverty it is decidedly disappointing. It is something entirely human and ordinary, something quite profane, in no way distinguished except for the fact that this is the promised sign, and it fits.

The shepherds believe the word. The word sends them from heaven and to earth, and as they proceed along this path, from light to darkness, from the extraordinary to the ordinary, from the solitary experience of God to the realm of ordinary human intercourse, from the splendor above to the poverty below, they are given the confirmation they need: the sign fits. Only now does their fearful joy under heaven's radiance turn into a completely uninhibited, human and Christian joy. Because it fits. And why does it fit? Because the Lord, the High God, has taken the same path as they have: he has left his glory behind him and gone into the dark world, into the child's apparent insignificance, into the unfreedom of human restrictions and bonds, into the poverty of the crib. This is the Word in action, and as yet the shepherds do not know, no one knows, how far down into the darkness this Word-in-action will lead. At all events it will descend much deeper than anyone else into what is worldly, apparently insignificant and profane; into what is bound, poor and powerless; so much so that we shall not be able to follow the last stage of his path. A heavy stone will block the way, preventing the others from approaching, while, in utter night, in ultimate loneliness and forsakenness, he descends to his dead human brothers.
It is true, therefore: in order that he shall find God, the Christian is placed on the streets of the world, sent to his manacled and poor brethren, to all who suffer, hunger and thirst; to all who are naked, sick and in prison. From henceforth this is his place; he must identify with them all. This is the great joy that is proclaimed to him today, for it is the same way that God sent a Savior to us. We ourselves may be poor and in bondage too, in need of liberation; yet at the same time all of us who have been given a share in the joy of deliverance are sent to be companions of those who are poor and in bondage.

But who will step out along this road that leads from God's glory to the figure of the poor Child lying in the manger? Not the person who is taking a walk for his own pleasure. He will walk along other paths that are more likely to run in the opposite direction, paths that lead from the misery of his own existence toward some imaginary or dreamed-up attempt at a heaven, whether of a brief pleasure or of a long oblivion. The only one to journey from heaven, through the world, to the hell of the lost, is he who is aware, deep in his heart, of a mission to do so; such a one obeys a call that is stronger than his own comfort and his resistance. This is a call that has complete power and authority over my life; I submit to it because it comes from a higher plane than my entire existence. It is an appeal to my heart, demanding the investment of my total self; its hidden, magisterial radiance obliges me, willy-nilly, to submit. I may not know who it is that so takes me into his service. But one thing I do know: if l stay locked within myself, if I seek myself, I shall not find the peace that is promised to the man on whom God's favor rests. I must go. I must enter the service of the poor and imprisoned. I must lose my soul if I am to regain it, for so long as I hold onto it, I shall lose it. This implacable, silent word (which yet is so unmistakable) burns in my heart and will not leave me in peace.

In other lands there are millions who are starving, who work themselves to death for a derisory day's wage, heartlessly exploited like cattle. There too are the slaughtered peoples whose wars cannot end because certain interests (which are not theirs) are tied up with the continuance of their misery. And I know that all my talk about progress and mankind's liberation will be dismissed with laughter and mockery by all the realistic forecasters of mankind's next few decades. Indeed, I only need to open my eyes and ears, and I shall hear the cry of those unjustly oppressed growing louder every day, along with the clamor of those who are resolved to gain power at any price, through hatred and annihilation. These are the superpowers of darkness; in the face of them all our courage drains away, and we lose all belief in the mission that resides in our hearts, that mission that was once so bright, joyous and peace bringing; we lose all hope of really finding the poor Child wrapped in swaddling clothes. What can my pitiful mission achieve, this drop of water in the white-hot furnace? What is the point of my efforts, my dedication, my sacrifice, my pleading to God for a world that is resolved to perish?

"Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you Good News of a great joy... This day is born the Savior", that is, he who, as Son of God and Son of the Father, has traveled (in obedience to the Father) the path that leads away from the Father and into the darkness of the world. Behind him omnipotence and freedom; before, powerlessness, bonds and obedience. Behind him the comprehensive divine vision; before him the prospect of the meaninglessness of death on the Cross between two criminals, Behind him the bliss of life with the Father; before him, grievous solidarity with all who do not know the Father, do not want to know him and deny his existence. Rejoice then, for God himself has passed this way! The Son took with him the awareness of doing the Father's will. He took with him the unceasing prayer that the Father's will would be done on the dark earth as in the brightness of heaven. He took with him his rejoicing that the Father had hidden these things from the wise and revealed them to babes, to the simple and the poor. "I am the way", and this way is "the truth" for you; along this way you will find "the life". Along "the way" that I am you will learn to lose your life in order to find it; you will learn to grow beyond yourselves and your insincerity into a truth that is greater than you are. From a worldly point of view everything may seem very dark; your dedication may seem unproductive and a failure. But do not be afraid: you are on God's path. "Let not your hearts be troubled: believe in God; believe also in me." I am walking on ahead of you and blazing the trail of Christian love for you. It leads to your most inaccessible brother, the person most forsaken by God. But it is the path of divine love itself. You are on the right path. All who deny themselves in order to carry out love's commission are on the right path.
Miracles happen along this path. Apparently insignificant miracles, noticed by hardly anyone. The very finding of a Child wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger is this not a miracle in itself? Then there is the miracle when a particular mission, hidden in a person's heart, really reaches its goal, bringing God's peace and joy where there were nothing but despair and resignation; when someone succeeds in striking a tiny light in the midst of an overpowering darkness. When joy irradiates a heart that no longer dared to believe in it. Now and again we ourselves are assured that the angel's word we are trying to obey will bring us to the place where God's Word and Son is already made man. We are assured that, in spite of all the noise and nonsense, today, December 25, is Christmas just as truly as two millennia ago. Once and for all God has started out on his journey toward us, and nothing, till the world's end, will stop him from coming to us and abiding in us.
Thanks very much to my new Facebook friend Greg Wolfe for posting this link!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

From Pope Benedict XVI

"Before we can say 'I am Yours,' He has already told us, 'I am yours.' ...With His Incarnation, He said, 'I am yours.' And in Baptism He said to me, 'I am yours.' In the Holy Eucharist, He always repeats this 'I am yours,' so that we may answer, 'Lord, I am Yours'. - Pope Benedict XVI

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Blood banks across the country struggle to collect enough blood to meet the needs of their patients. The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is especially challenging. People are filled with holiday cheer, but they're also preoccupied with holiday busy-ness. They don't think about giving blood, and if they do it's hard to find the time. If you're able, please try to donated sometime soon. Thanks to generous blood donors, patients who receive life saving transfusions will be around next year to celebrate the holidays with their families. If you have any questions about blood donation, your friendly American Red Cross phlebotomist (me) would love to answer them for you. Thanks for considering a cause that's very close to my heart.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Madrid Cathedral

Isn't it breathtaking?!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

7 random things about me

I guess I've always known this day would come. I've been tagged. Annie of Well, That Would Be Telling tagged me with the 7 random things meme. Unfortunately, this meme has already gone around most of the blogs I read, so I don't think I have anyone left to tag. I can, however, tell you 7 random things you didn't know about me...

1.) I HATE being sung to on my birthday. And if you think it might be funny to do it anyway, I can't be held responsible for the outcome. Please, please, please don't sing to me. I mean it. Just don't.
2.) I took a "which The Office character are you?" quiz once. I was sure the result would be Phylis. No, it was Dwight. Dwight! I was horrified. Still am.
3.) My mom is gay - transgendered actually - and most of the people in my life can't comprehend how the daughter of a lesbian could possible end up a cloistered nun. I'm asked about it on an almost daily basis. I can't understand what the problem is here. I really don't get it. It baffles me that so many people are baffled.
3a.) Because I was raised by a mom who thinks she's my dad, I can't do my hair, paint my nails, etc. I can, however build a bookshelf, change a tire, plunge a toilet and split firewood.
4.) For years, some friends and I have played this "perfect man" game. We create the perfect man by adding up percentages of men who actually exist. My current perfect man: 50% Thomas Merton, 20% Steven Colbert, 10% Bobby Flay, 10% Lasagna Man from the lasagna episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay, 5% Johnny Depp in Willy Wonka (minus the greenish complexion), 5% Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean.
5.) For me, changing into my pajamas is like hitting reset. When work is really crazy, I just keep telling myself "In a few more hours, you'll be in your pajamas and everything will be all better." Poor Clares don't have pajamas - they sleep in their habits. Not sure how well I'm going to handle that.
6.) I take voice lesson with the cantor at my parish so that I'll be able to chant on key once I'm in the convent. If this seems silly to you it's because you have no idea how unbelievably badly I used to sing. Now I actually do okay. I've actually said the words "I rocked Vespers last night." I meant it too - I rocked it hard.
7.) I think it would be nice to have a little farm. Every morning I'd milk the cow and gather eggs from the chickens. Maybe the nuns will get some animals...

Since I have no one left to tag with this meme, I think I'll make up a new one. We'll call it the 3 meme. Here are the rules: answer the three questions and tag three people.

1.) If you had to give one million dollars to any 3 charities, which ones would you choose and why?
2.) If you could only ever read 3 books again, which books would you choose and why?
3.) If you could somehow incorporate 3 people (living or dead) into your family who would you want to be realted to?

I tag Annie of Well, that would be telling..., David of A Roman Catholic Convert and Scott of Καθολικός διάκονος !

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Today's Mass readings can be found here. The Gospel reading from Matthew is the parable of the talents in which a master going on a trip entrusts three servants with three different amounts of money. The servants who were given five talents and two talents both took what was given to them and doubled it. Their reward was to be invited to share their master's joy. One of my big rants this political season has been that those of us who have so much should be grateful, and in gratitude we should want others to be blessed as well. Hopefully, we'd then figure out that God blessed us in these ways so that others could be blessed through us. Instead we hoard what we're given and look down our noses at those who don't have health care, citizenship, homes, adequate education, employment, grocery money, etc. Worse yet, we find a way to tell ourselves that it's all their fault they don't have these things, that we worked hard and deserve what we have and we're not going to let someone take it from us - "Wah, it's not fair!" The gifts we are given aren't to be grasped at and clung to, they are meant to be shared. Why? Because the good God does is a sign that points to the Good God is. The love of God is profuse; it should overflow every vessel it's poured into so that the good God does in us becomes the Good God does through us. The reward for this is the act itself - we are privileged to share in the life and work of God.

Now let's talk about the third servant. He took the talent he was given and out of fear he buried it. When his master returns, the servant brings the coin back and is severly punished for not using what he had been given. His talent is taken from him and given to the servant who made good use what he had been entrusted with. What's saddest to me about this parable is that the last servant says to his master "I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground." He losses the opportunity to fully participate in the life and love of God because he was afraid. But the only people who are afraid of God are the ones who don't know who He really is. They see what He does, but they're confused about the why and the how and the role their supposed to play in all this. So they keep their heads down and just try their best not to screw up.

What if the servants who understood the plan had gone to their brother and offered to help him? What if they had said something like, "There's no need to be afraid. Our Master is demanding, it's true, but it's because He knows what you're capable of doing and who you are capable of being, and He loves you too much to let you settle for anything less. In serving our Master, you'll become that person He knows you can be, and you'll be a part of helping all of creation become what it was meant to be as well. And you don't have to do it alone - we're in this with you, and He's in this with all of us."

And then maybe the other servant could chime in with something along the lines of, "I know it's hard, and it can be scary. I've messed up over and over again. But each time I do I go to my Master and tell Him I'm sorry, and He helps me make it right. What matters most is that you love Him enough to want to serve Him and be a part of what He's doing in the world and in all of us."

We need to support and encourage each other in living our Christian faith. This is why God gave us the Church. This is why we gather together to be fed by the Eucharist. I'm off to Mass.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A long van ride home

So I have a low grade infection in the kidney they did the operation on. It's not too serious, but it's causing a lot of inflammation, so the doctor said I had to do a run of methylprednisolone (steroids) which makes me more than a little crazy. I almost never talk about my past at work unless someone asks me about it directly. Tonight though, it was like I had no filter - so what started out as a conversation about which beers I like at my favorite microbrewery turned into a pretty detailed description of my former life. I think this was good for two reasons:

1.) I've tried to explain to my coworkers on literally hundreds of occasions that even though I'm going to be nun I'm still a regular person just like them - nothing special, nothing better or worse than anybody else. Some of them get it, but most of them still have this tripped out picture of the religious life that seems to be a cross between Sister Act and The Sound of Music (maybe with a little Dogma thrown in.) I want them to understand that I'm not this perfect person who had some vision and now is locking herself away with Jesus in an ivory-tower-convent. I'm a person who encountered the Love of God and was blown away and said "I want to love like this too, please will You show me how?" And when the answer took the form of a vocation to the Poor Clares I said yes because even though I was scared shitless something deeper than the fear said that if the call came from that Love it would be okay somehow - more than okay actually.

2.) When one coworker asked me if I ever miss doing some of the things I used to do I was able to answer that question for myself as well as for her. When I look back and remember the drugs and the sex and the parties and the craziness there are a few images that make me shudder, but most of the time I really was having fun. And I do miss it a little sometimes. But my life now is so much more than fun - it's filled with a significance that was there all along but that I was unaware of before. It's not that I wasn't happy - I was, but that happiness seemed fleeting and superficial and directionless. I used to think that religion, especially Christianity, restricted people and made them less than themselves. Turns out that understanding who I am in relationship to the God who created me and loves me is making me more myself. Living in the awareness of perfect Love is absolutely liberating. Now and again, I catch glimpses of this person I never would have thought I could be - couldn't even have imagined - and I realize that this is who God wants me to be - who He created me to be. Faith tells me that the love of God is turning me into that person and that He's doing this for all of creation as well. I want to cooperate with Him, give Him free reign to keep doing what He's been doing. So yes, I do look back once in a while, and I miss some stuff. But I'm much more intigued by, and grateful for, what I see when I look ahead.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, pray for us!

What shall we not do for the love of such a loving God, so generous that He has called us to follow Him so closely and to continue the mission of Jesus on earth! Let us correspond to so great a love. Let us be generous, and remember that the salvation of the world is entrusted to our charity. We can do nothing because we are poor and weak, but let us have a lively faith and trust in Him who strengthens us. Let us expand our hearts to help so many souls lying under the yoke of the king of darkness. With the fire of our love, let us break the heavy chains keeping them bound in the terrible service of the devil.

When we see our efforts are unsuccessful, let us throw ourselves at the feet of Jesus. Groaning over the world's iniquity, let us beg his divine heart to lay bare his infinite treasures of mercy. Then let us return again to our work, without giving in to exhaustion. Hardships must never discourage the spouse of Christ; rather they should make her stronger and more determined. Do not be dismayed by rejection and mockery. Go forward always with the serenity and fortitude of angles, because you are the angels of the earth and so must continue on your way in the midst of so many contrary influences. Everyone can be serene when things run smoothly; it is in difficult situations that fidelity and constancy are proven. - Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A prayer from Pope John Paul II

Holy Spirit, we appear before you as sinners, but gathered together in your name. Come among us, stay with us, enter into our hearts, teach us what to do and what direction to take. Show us what to choose so that, with your help, we may please you in all things. Be our counselor and the author of our purposes; you who with God the Father and his Son bear the name of glorious; you who love justice, do not let us become its destroyers. May our ignorance not lead us astray, success not deceive us, may our own interest or that of others not fail us. Bind us closely to you with the gift of your grace so that in you we may be one and never distant from the truth. And since we are gathered together in your name, may justice guided by love govern us in all things, so that we may do nothing against your will in the present, and by our good acts earn eternal reward for the future.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

I just had to share something from the homily of this evening's vigil Mass. The gospel reading described the interaction between our Lord and the Pharisees where they ask him if they should pay the census tax. As you know, Jesus asks them who's image is stamped on the coin. When they answer that it is Caesar's image, Jesus tells them to give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's. Father pointed out that the coin carries Caesar's image, but we are made in the image of God. He is imprinted on our hearts, and so we are His, and it is only right to offer Him our very selves. How beautiful that we are made to do this and given the grace to do this - this self donation is our destiny and the satisfaction of the desire of our hearts.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

"Scoop from the bottom"

Several years ago, I was a waitress at a little restaurant in Michigan called the Parkway Inn. There was a regular customer who would always order soup with her dinner and demand that her waitress "scoop from the bottom." As I write this, I can hear her voice again, plain as day, and it makes me shiver a little. I used to get really angry when I waited on this woman. How selfish to demand all the good parts of the soup for yourself when that means leaving others with a less desirable portion! I realize that soup is a pretty insignifogant part of life, but her request pointed to a deeper mentality that really bothered me.

Sadly, I think that too many Americans vote for the politician they think will "scoop from the bottom" for them. "Joe the plumber" from last night's debate is a perfect example. Instead of feeling blessed and grateful that he has the money and opportunity to own his own business, Joe worries that he'll have to pay higher taxes and spend money to provide health insurance for his employees. I wish the American dream involved looking out for others and making sacrifices to so that we can all live a decent life. Instead it seems to mean that we do whatever it takes to stake a claim on the things that are important to us while leaving the more vulnerable members of the population to deal with the consequences.

Monday, October 13, 2008

"Give Me Your Eyes" by Brandon Heath

I could listen to this song on repeat for a week straight and not get sick of it. It reminds me of an experience I had when I was about nine years old. I was in the car with my mom, and we were waiting for the light to change at a very busy intersection. Hundreds of cars were passing in front of me, and I suddenly realized that the people driving and riding in those cars all had lives, families, dreams, pain, etc. I was filled with awe at the hugeness of humanity. I realized for the first time that life is more than my tiny experience of it.

I've had simular encounters several times since then. Driving on a highway. Sitting in a NYC subway car. At work when I think back on the people I came in contact with that day and wonder if I gave them anything of value, anything that might hint at how precious they are.

Last weekend, I went back to Michigan to visit my family. As I was getting off the plane, I found myself unreasonably frustrated about how slowly everyone seemed to be moving. Out of nowhere, this thought entered my mind, "What if you didn't see people as in your way? What if you saw them as placed there for you to love?" I thought of this song and prayed for grace.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Little Poor Man of Assisi, pray for us!

All day long, I've been trying to think of something wonderful to say about the spiritual father of the Poor Clares, but what I keep coming back to it this - St. Francis wouldn't want me to. I think nothing would make him happier than to spend a few minutes in joyful praise of God and the infinite ways He reveals Himself to us, the children He loves. I love this version of St. Francis' most well known and loved hymn. Take your laptop someplace private and sing along!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Francisco Moreno

I ask your prayers for Francisco Moreno who passed away Saturday morning after a long and painful illness. I didn't have the privilege of meeting him; I only knew about his situation because another member of our parish asked a group of us to keep him in our prayers. Now, I hope he will pray for all of us before the throne of God. Please consider joining me in a novena of Divine Mercy chaplets for his eternal rest and peace.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Last night's supper

The following recipe was made, eaten and cleaned up in under 45 minutes.

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 c chopped celery
1/2 of an onion, chopped

In a large heavy pot, saute the above ingredients in a little olive oil or butter.

Add the following:

2 cans of diced tomatoes, drained
2 cans of beans, drained (I used great northern beans and kidney beans, but I think any kind you like would work)
Enough vegetable or chicken stock to achieve the desire consistency
Any seasonings you like (I added a little oregano, parsley and basil)
If you'd like, throw in a handful or two of any frozen vegetables you have on hand - I added spinach and carrots.

If you want to keep things healthy, stop there. If you're not worried so much about the healthiness or are incapable of eating anything without cheese (raising my hand) ladle out the servings, then top each with a handful of bread crumbs and a handful of mozzarella cheese to make a super-thick, super-cheesy bowl of goodness.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Another year of RCIA has begun! What a blessing to accompany people on this journey and see God at work in their lives! I ask your prayers for all those who seek God or seek to know and love Him better.

O God, you have redeemed us and adopted us.
Grant to your beloved children that their belief in Christ may bring them true liberty and an eternal inheritance.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.

Monday, September 8, 2008

My heart's definition of encounter

Today is (in edition to the Nativity our Blessed Mother) the anniversary of my father's death. He died six years ago; I was an 18 year old atheist at the time. He and I were never close, so I was grieving more for "what could have been" than for him. I had a sense that the essence of my father still existed - that a part of him was very much alive - but I attributed this to a lack of closure or wishful thinking. These explanations felt incomplete and insincere, but as an atheist I had to accept them or risk allowing myself to contemplate the possibility of there being more to life than what I could see and touch in the world around me.

Three years later, I was a new Christian, and when September 8th rolled around I was unsure about how to remember my father's death in light of my eight month old faith. I was an Episcopalian at the time, and my parish was very "low church" so there were no candles to light or Masses to offer. I had come to believe in purgatory though, so I knew that my prayers could help my father if he was there - I just didn't know what to say. I went to our tiny church and prayed for God to be merciful and help my father in any way He could. It didn't feel like it was helping the way it sometimes does when I pray. I didn't know what to think about that. I decided to go up to Salt Lake City to the Roman Catholic Cathedral. I had been there once before on the Feast of the Assumption - my Episcopalian parish didn't celebrate Marian holidays the way some do - and I remembered how I had felt caught up in something powerful during that Mass. I wanted to feel that again and somehow make my father a part of it too.

I got to Salt Lake City with a lot of extra time to kill. I remembered a friend telling me to check out the downtown public library. After exploring for a while I rode the elevator to the rooftop terrace (my friend had told me not to miss this.) My head was down as I stepped outside, so the view hit me full force, all at once when I looked up. On the 5th floor, above the surrounding buildings and power lines, there was nothing to block my view of the mountains I had come to love since moving to Utah about a year before. They seemed so close - strong and comforting. As I stood there in awe I suddenly knew that God had foreseen this moment when He made those mountains. I don't think He made them just for me, but He did know that I'd be standing on that terrace on that day and those mountains would bring me peace. Since that day, whenever someone talks about an encounter with God, the memory of that moment immediately comes to my mind.

So I went to Mass with a grateful heart. I had experienced God's love and providence in a profound and personal way and knew that providence extended to my father as well. When the priest announced that we were celebrating the birth of the Virgin Mary, I was filled with joy. Almost from the moment of my conversion, I knew that our Blessed Mother had brought me to her Son. I was grateful to know that my father is linked to her in a special way. Our Lady's entire life is a sign that points to the promises of Christ. These promises give me hope for my father, myself, and all of humanity. It is a beautiful blessing to celebrate my Mother's birth on the day I remember my father's death.

Thy birth, O Virgin Mother of God, heralded joy to all the world. For from thou hast risen the Sun of justice, Christ our God.

Destroying the curse, He gave blessing; and damning death, He bestowed on us life everlasting.

Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb! For from thou hast risen the Sun of justice, Christ our God.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

It looks like I won't be posting for about 2 weeks. Complications from my surgery have landed me flat on my back (sitting is almost unbearable) until the stent in my kidney is removed. I'm still reading other people's blogs though (I print off the posts and read them lying down) so please keep feeding me the good stuff!

Saturday, August 30, 2008


Sometimes I feel totally overwhelmed by people and relationships. I was feeling like that today. I told Jesus I just wanted to crawl inside His heart and make it all go away for a little while. He told me I am always welcome in His heart, but that's where all of humanity is as well, so if I'm trying to escape the human race I should probably figure out a different plan.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Love and healing

What if the wounds inflicted by suffering didn't have a chance to fester and breed bitterness and hatred? What if kindness, mercy and charity got there first and cleansed, soothed and bandaged the wounds? Love would have a chance to heal the wounds, and the wounded would be pointed to Love Himself.
I know I'm not saying anything new here. Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed by human suffering and its all-too-common, lingering effects - bitterness and hatred. When the pain I see all around me becomes oppressive, the above turns into a sort of prayer/personal battle cry.
I also like a quote from a post on Conversion Diary: Fear is the absence of love. I summon this quote most often in situations where I have no idea what to do or how to help. Looking deeper, I have to admit that this "not knowing" is a result of trying desperately to avoid awkwardness and failure. The quote reminds me that the more I love, the less worried I am about my abilities or image - love takes over and I act. As I become more other-focused, I become less self-focused. Since most fears are rooted in self doubt, they turn into faint background noise when we focus on other people.
Returning to the quote - if I turn the l in love into a capitol L, I'm reminded of something else. God is Love. When I give up or refuse to take action because of fear, I'm denying myself a chance to be used by Love Himself to love those who are hurting. I'm making it about me instead of about Him. I'm worried about what I think I can't do instead of glorying in all that He is doing.
A personal note related to love and healing - a deep, heart-felt thank you to everyone who prayed for me in the days leading up to my surgery. My operation went extremely well, I got to go home from the hospital a day early, and aside from a brief tussle with an infection, my recovery is going great. Your love and prayers are a sign that constantly points me to God, and I am inexpressibly grateful.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Giussani in Korea??

I like this post about human freedom which I found on Intentional Disciples. Interestingly, none of the people who post on this blog (to the best of my knowledge) are members of Communion and Liberation, but the perspective is very Is It Possible to Live This Way?

I'd also like to acknowledge the memorial of the Queenship of Our Lady. I love that this remembrance follows so closely on the heals of the Feast of the Assumption - a beautiful reminder that destiny doesn't end with the conclusion of our earthly life.

Holy Mary, Queen of heaven and earth, please pray for us!
Through your intercession, may we live with awareness and intention.
Through your intercession may we fully realize, embrace and become our destiny.
Holy Mary, Mother of the Restoration of our freedom, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sacrifice and Choice

When asked about her training methods during an interview, an Olympic marathoner recently said "I don't believe in sacrifices, I believe in choices." I've been thinking about this ever since. I understand the difference she's referring to in regards to athletic goals, but what is the difference between sacrifice and choice in life outside of the "bird's nest?"

Here's what I've got so far: I think choice is about following your own destiny - decisions either take you closer to your destiny or further away from it. Sacrifice, on the other hand, concerns the destiny of others - the obvious example of this is Jesus Christ freeing all of us to pursue destiny by sacrificing Himself. All sacrifices must be choices though; we have to freely cooperate with God's grace because He will never force us to love Him. Sacrifice always involves faith in a God who has decided to bring about the salvation of the world through us. We make sacrificial choices that put others before ourselves and we trust that in giving us the grace to make this sacrifice, God is bringing us closer to our destiny as well - along with the rest of creation.

This is why community is so very important. It constantly reminds us that we all share one common destiny - the God who lovingly created us for union with Himself - and we cannot get there on our own because that common Goal draws us together. Community also provides endless opportunities for sacrifice. Since we become children of God by being bound to Christ in baptism, we live out our destiny as heirs of the kingdom in union with Him through our sacrifices. This is something I've come to understand much better through my kidney problems. I wanted so badly to suffer bravely when the pain was really difficult. I trusted that God could do something beautiful with my suffering, but until recently I didn't understand how this all happens. I think I'm starting to get it now - kinda. Christ doesn't need my help to save the world - He allows me to share in his work because in doing so He makes me into the person the Father created me to be. No one can reach their destiny without sacrificing his/herself, and sacrifice must be done for others.

I'll probably be thinking about sacrifice and choice for a long time, so if you have anything to add I'd love to hear your thoughts. Looking back over what I've just written, it all seems very elementary to me - stuff I already knew. But through my experiences, I'm beginning to connect and understand these ideas on a deeper level.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Our Blessed Mother's Assumption

I love our Blessed Mother, and I love the Feast of the Assumption. I have a hard time with most of the depictions of this event though. I don't know a great deal about art - I only know what speaks to my soul - so maybe there's something I just don't get. The beautiful paintings of myriads of cherubs gloriously whisking the Virgin Mary away just seem off to me. I realize that these are artistic expressions and not a journalistic account, but it's the essence of the depictions that doesn't feel quite right. Mary was the most profoundly human (human as in living in relationship to God) person to ever live. The satisfaction of humanity is destiny - full union with the One we were created for full union with. Our Lady lived this destiny perfectly throughout her earthly life, and when it was time for that life to come to a close, her destiny was actualized in a way that would not only justly reward the person she was but also serve the rest of Creation as a promise of what is to come - what is, in a way, going on right now. Yes, this event - humanity fully sharing divinity - is glorious; I just picture it more simply. I imagine a stirring in her heart, a quiet Voice speaking without words saying "It is time." And then she was gone and yet more fully present then ever - able to be a mother to every single soul, not just those who were blessed enough to be in her physical vicinity. Being the epitome of humanity, I think Mary's experience would be the epitome of human experience. And God usually speaks to His children in a quiet simplicity that is infinitely more beautiful than all the cherubs anyone could ever paint.

As I write this though it seems very unfair to the artists who created these works. How would you paint the Voice of God? I think they did the best they could, knowing they would fall short but still compelled to try, trusting in God to do something beautiful with what ever they could offer in love.

Blessed is she who trusted that the Lord's word to her would be fulfilled! May we see heaven as our goal and come to share in her glory!

Oprah and Giussani

I'm watching a rerun of an episode of Oprah entitled "Why Did You Get Married?" The show only started 10 minutes ago, and I'm already shocked by the answers to the title question. Almost everyone answered with some variation of "I don't know." When Oprah asked them about their expectations for marriage most of the responses were similar. I don't understand how anyone could undertake something that huge without an equally huge amount of prayer, discussion, introspection and preparation.

This has certainly highlighted for me the importance of living with intention. If I had to sum up the message of Is it Possible to Live This Way? in one word (please don't make me!) I would have to choose THINK. Giussani constantly challenges us to examine our minds, hearts and lives. I'm very new to Communion and Liberation, and I'm just starting to be able to put my experience of this charism into words. One of my favorite things I've learned through the movement so far is that we (we as in human beings, not just members of CL) should never allow ourselves or each other to mindlessly coast. Better still are the underlying implications of this: we are worth more than what we would settle for if it weren't for Jesus Christ. Through Christ, with Christ, and in Christ this "more" which would have been lost in original sin is not only restored but made truly present.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Prayer request

As you may or may not know, I'm scheduled for kidney surgery on the 22nd. I'm starting a novena today and asking for your prayers. St. Benedict is the patron Saint of kidney issues, and he's been very helpful thus far. The 22nd is the memorial of the Queenship of Our Lady, and she's always been gratuitously good to me, so I'm feeling blessed all around.
This whole situation has actually been a blessing because I've learned so much. My understanding of God's goodness has been deepened and broadened. His goodness transcends our limited experience. It's not just what He does, it's Who He is! I've experienced His love and strength in countless ways, but I sense it most through the prayers of those who care about me. This strengthens my faith in my vocation - I hope my prayers can help others (especially those who suffer) to encounter the love of God who is Love Himself. Thank you for your prayers - past, present and future.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A middle of the night prayer

Holy St. Clare, beautiful in every way, I feel so blessed in my calling to be one of your spiritual daughters. Please pray for me, and obtain for me the grace to love our Lord with all that I am. This is the desire of my heart. Amen.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Holy St. Clare, pray for us!

"O wondrous blessed clarity of Clare! In life she shone to a few; after death she shines on the whole world! On earth she was a clear light, now in heaven she is a brilliant sun. O how great the vehemence of the brilliance of this clarity! On earth this light was indeed kept within cloistered walls, yet shone abroad it’s shining rays; it was confined within a convent cell, yet spread itself through the whole world."

CLARE, a close friend of St. Francis of Assisi, lived in the 13th Century. Her reputation was like that of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, "a saint in our midst".

CLARE was born into a wealthy family, educated in the domestic arts of spinning and needle work, reading and writing. She knew about St. Francis because of his love for the poor. Francis' father was a successful cloth merchant. In 1204 Francis enlisted in Assisi's war with Perugia. After a year as a prisoner of war, his view of society and its social structures was forever altered.

During this time, urban development was beginning and capitalism was in its infancy. Goods were created through cheap labor and poor working conditions. Francis could see that the poor were most harmed by capitalism and urbanization. He left his father's business and began a simple life dependent on God. He begged and preached in the streets of Assisi and ultimately formed the community of Friars Minor.

IN 1210 Clare heard Francis preach detachment from things and money, to live in faith, that God will provide as God cares for the birds of the air (Matt 6). Assisi

IN 1212 Clare left her family and joined Francis. Inspired by Francis' faith, Clare lived and believed in Divine Providence. She depended on God to supply what she and the community needed. Her small group of followers became known as Poor Clares.

IN the document on her canonization in 1255, a number of miracles are re-told. Once, finding an empty jar of oil filled when they were in need, Clare believed God had filled it as "a gift of divine generosity". Clare accepted all things and people as a gift from God. She lived among her community as an equal doing daily works with everyone else. She was attentive to the well-being of each sister. Once Clare suspected a sister was suffering from depression and gave her extra sensitivity and care. The nun was restored to health and peace of heart, the canonization document says. The "Legend of Clare" tells us she healed a young boy with an emotional disorder.

FRANCIS also respected Clare's gifts of listening and insights. He and the brothers went to Clare whenever they had to make an important decision. Pope Gregory IX, a regular visitor, often consulted her opinion. Soon Clare and her communities became known for their care and prayers for people in need.

CLARE was canonized two years after her death and thousands of women still follow her inspiration as Poor Clares around the world. We are blessed to be among these.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The point of no return

Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and he asked his disciples,“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living
God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.

Peter takes a huge step, the step, in this passage. Those who thought of Jesus as a prophet, teacher, healer, etc still had an out. They could follow Him without fully investing themselves. They could listen to His teachings and say "That was interesting." or "Hmmm, something to think about." When Jesus taught something that was difficult for them to accept, they could ignore that part of His message. When following Him began to cost them something, they could fade away and go back to business as usual.

When Peter proclaimed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah, the One they had all been waiting for, he passed a point of no return. When another person - no matter how wise he or she is - tells you something, you can choose whether or not to believe it, accept it, allow it to affect you. This doesn't make sense when it's God doing the talking. It's irrational and untrue to ourselves to go against the One who created and sustains us.

I think of Peter following Jesus in the weeks and months before this exchange and wonder what was going on inside his mind and his soul. I imagine this Reality of all realities slowly growing in his heart.

"Could He be the Christ... this isn't how I pictured the Messiah... no He can't be - He's a carpenter from Nazareth... but He's not just a carpenter, there's something more there... there's something about Him - I can't name it and I don't understand it, but I can't deny it... what if He is..."

I imagine this interior dialogue being fed by his experiences - experiences that answer some questions, but raise new ones. Until one day the question is asked, the line is drawn, and something inside of him responds to invitation inside the question. There's no turning back now - he's all in.

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.

The acceptance of this Truth changes everything else. It changes Peter and the other disciples, and it changes their relationship with Jesus. They are no longer spectators, they are participants. They are playing an active role in the story of the world's salvation.

Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

But what is this role supposed to be? Peter gets it wrong because he forgets who Jesus is. He's shaken by the things Jesus tells them about what He will have to suffer. How could this happen? He's confused, angry and afraid. He slips back into his old mind set, and forgets that he is talking to the Son of God. How many times have I responded to God in faith, and then stumbled backwards? Thankfully, Jesus is there to rebuke me - show me where I'm wrong and remind me of who He is and who I am in relationship to Him. He reminds me that I'm no longer a subject but an heir to the Kingdom. He invites me to think as God does - to be in full communion with Him. Each time I pass a point of no return - this happens continuously throughout our lives as we're called deeper and deeper into the mystery of God - Jesus holds me to it. He won't let me be any less than the one He created me to be.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

An answer that raises more questions

This started as a response to a question on http://www.conversiondiary.com/. I’m continuing with it as an exercise in articulating exactly who I believe God is and who we are in relationship to Him.

God created us because God is love and true love is always life giving, over flowing, profuse. True love seeks perfect union with the object of that love. True love also desires what is good for the one who is loved – so much so that He will sacrifice His very self for this end. God created us out of love, but because He loves us He couldn’t stop there – He continues to long for us. He wants us to share in His divine nature, in the communion of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is also what is good for us. Union with God is where we find perfect happiness, peace, truth, beauty – everything good. Union with God is also where we become all we have been created to be. To be one with God, we have to be like Him, and we need His help. We need contact with something holier than ourselves to become holy. Water cannot boil by trying really, really hard; it can only boil when it comes in contact with a source of heat – something it can’t make on its own. Recognizing this, we can see that God does not require our love and worship out of narcissism. God longs for us to allow Him to make us all we were created to be, but He will never force His love on us. Until we accept our dependence on God, He cannot help us. Those who think they are healthy will not let a doctor care for them – even if they are in fact very ill. Submitting to God should not come from being crushed by the fist of guilt or shame or fear. Opening ourselves to God should be a response to the Love He first lavished upon us. It doesn’t mean serving a cruel, faceless dictator; it means accepting the guidance of a Father who is Love and offers to make us into the same so we can perfectly share in this Love forever.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Please pray a novena to Saint Clare with me!


O most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we praise your Holy Name and the wonders of grace you worked in your servant, Saint Clare. Through her powerful intercession grant us the favours we beg in this novena, above all the grace to live and die as she did in your most Holy Love. Amen.

First Day

O Seraphic Saint Clare, first disciple of the Poor Man of Assisi, who hast abandoned all riches and honours for a life of sacrifice and of highest poverty, obtain from God for us the grace we ask(State your intention here...), that of always submitting to the Divine Will and of living confidently in the providence of our Heavenly Father. Amen.

Second Day

O Seraphic Saint Clare who, notwithstanding living separated from the world hast not forgotten the poor and the afflicted, but hast become a mother to them, sacrificing for them your riches and working for them innumerable miracles; obtain from God for us the grace we implore(State your intention here...), Christian charity towards our brethrenin all their spiritual and temporal needs.Amen.

Third Day

O Seraphic Saint Clare, light of your country, who hast delivered Italy from barbarous invaders; obtain from God for us the grace we implore(State your intention here...), that of overcoming all attacks of the world against faith and morals thus preserving in our families true Christian peace with a holy fear of God and a devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. Amen.

Fourth Day

Blessed Saint Clare, whose very name means light, illumine the darkness of our minds and hearts so that we might see what God wishes us to do and perform it with a willing and joyful heart. Before your birth, a Heavenly voice foretold that you would be a light illuminating the world. Be a light to us in the sorrows and anxieties of this earthly life, and lead us into the eternal light of our home in Heaven. Amen.

Fifth Day

O Seraphic Saint Clare, whose virginal heart was great enough to love the whole world, take our petitions into your pure hands and present them to God. Pray for us that we may one day enter joyously before the throne of God. Let the light of your perfect purity consume the shadows of sin and corruption that darkens the world. Intercede by your innocence for our youth. Safeguard the peace of our homes and the unity of our family. Plead with your chaste love for all in peril. Amen.

Sixth Day

Generous Saint Clare, who left wealth and pleasure and all earthly goods to become the first spiritual daughter of Saint Francis and to serve God in the cloister, help us to commit our lives to God without limit or measure so that He may live in us and shine forth from us to all whose lives touch ours. You who loved souls so much as to make your life a continual sacrifice for them, obtain for us the graces we now implore and win for us the strength to praise God in suffering as well as in joy. Amen.

Seventh Day

Faithful Saint Clare, loyal daughter of the Church, friend and confidante of popes, intercede for the holy Church and look graciously from Heaven on our holy Father Pope. Enlighten us to remove from our souls all that hinders the progress of the Church on earth. Grant that we may share your great love for the church of God and spread His kingdom on earth by a holy life. You, who worked miracles in the presence of the pope on earth, obtain for us the graces we need, now that you stand in the presence of the most high God in Heaven. Amen.

Eighth Day

Valiant Saint Clare, who fearlessly stood alone against the barbarous Saracens, trusting in the Blessed Sacrament as your only protection, enkindle in us a tender love for Jesus Christ; help us to live Eucharistic lives. You who saved your city of Assisi from plunder and ruin, protect our city and archdiocese, plead for our beloved country and the suffering world. A voice from the Sacred Host rewarded your trust with a promise: "I will always take care of you." Glorious Saint Clare, from your high place in Heaven, take care of us now in our earthly needs and guide us by your light to Heaven.Amen.

Ninth Day

Gracious Saint Clare, who fulfilled your womanhood by a life of love in prayer and penance, help us to fulfill our destiny that we may one day greet you in Heaven. You who were consoled at your death by a vision of Christ band His Mother, obtain for us the grace that we may die under the special protection of God and enter into the life and bliss you now enjoy. Have pity on us who struggle, on us who mourn, and win for us the favours of God so that after this life we may come home to Him who lives and reigns forever and ever.Amen.

Closing Prayer

V. Pray for us, Saint Clare.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us Pray:We Pray You, Lord, Grant us Your servants who celebrate the festival of Blessed Clare your Virgin, by her intercession, to be partakers of the joys of heaven and coheirs with Your only-begotten Son, Who being God, lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Almighty God and Father

Today, I started a prayer just as I have countless other times, but as I said "Father God" the hugeness, the beauty of this address crashed into my soul. He is God, and we get to call Him Father. Awe and gratitude - the speechless, jaw dropped, hand-clutching-chest awe and gratitude inspired by a gift you didn't earn and don't deserve and could never earn and will never (no matter how much I want to) deserve, but it's here and it's mine and He wants me to have it, He really, really does (deep sigh) - that's what I feel.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Holy St. Benedict, pray for us!

Whenever you begin any good work you should first of all make a most pressing appeal to Christ our Lord to bring it to perfection; that he, who has honoured us by counting us among his children, may never be grieved by our evil deeds. For we must always serve him with the good things he has given us in such a way that he may never – as an angry father disinherits his sons or even like a master who inspires fear – grow impatient with our sins and consign us to everlasting punishment, like wicked servants who would not follow him to glory.So we should at long last rouse ourselves, prompted by the words of Scripture: Now is the time for us to rise from sleep. Our eyes should be open to the God-given light, and we should listen in wonderment to the message of the divine voice as it daily cries out: Today, if you shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts; and again: If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. And what does the Spirit say? Come my sons, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Hurry, while you have the light of life, so that death’s darkness may not overtake you. And the Lord as he seeks the one who will do his work among the throng of people to whom he makes that appeal, says again: Which of you wants to live to the full; who loves long life and the enjoyment of prosperity? And, if when you hear this you say, I do, God says to you: If you desire true and everlasting life, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from deceit; turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. And when you have done these things my eyes will be upon you and my ears will be attentive to your prayers; and before you call upon my name I shall say to you: Behold, I am here. What could be more delightful, dearest brothers, than the voice of our Lord’s invitation to us? In his loving kindness he reveals to us the way of life.And so, girded with faith and the performance of good works, let us follow in his paths by the guidance of the Gospel; then we shall deserve to see him who has called us into his kingdom. If we wish to attain a dwelling-place in his kingdom we shall not reach it unless we hasten there by our good deeds.Just as there exists an evil fervour, a bitter spirit, which divides us from God and leads us to hell, so there is a good fervour which sets us apart from evil inclinations and leads us toward God and eternal life. Monks should put this fervour into practice with an overflowing love: that is, they should surpass each other in mutual esteem, accept their weaknesses, either of body or of behaviour, with the utmost patience; and vie with each other in acceding to requests. No one should follow what he considers to be good for himself, but rather what seems good for another. They should display brotherly love in a chaste manner; fear God in a spirit of love; revere their abbot with a genuine and submissive affection. Let them put Christ before all else; and may he lead us all to everlasting life.

- from the rule of St. Benedict


You've probably seen this before. It's made the rounds in multiple forwared emails, blogs, etc. but everytime I read it, I still feel blessed and very, very grateful. It was this sense of gratitude, in response to these words, that I believe opened my heart to God.

- If you can read this, you are better off than over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all.
- If you have food in your refrigerator, clothing in your closet, a roof overhead and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of the people in this world.
- If you have money in the bank, in your wallet and spare change in a jar, you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy.
- If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, torture or death, you are more blessed than three billion people in the world.
- If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million people who will not survive the week.
- If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.
- If your parents are still alive and still married, you are very rare, even in the United States.
- If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful, you are blessed, because the majority can, but most do not. - A.D. Kessler

“I firmly believe no matter how little you have, or think you have, you still have the capacity to give to those less fortunate than you.” – Jesse Thomas

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Surgery and Sacraments

I had to have surgery today - nothing exciting - just a stent in my kidney to help stuff get where it needs to go. It was, however, urgent enough that they looked am my CT scan and said "This has to happen today - now... we're getting you an OR," and serious enough that I had to be put under general anesthesia. That meant no food or drink - absolutely nothing - including the Eucharist.

I said a Rosary and a Divine Mercy chaplet. I prayed from my heart for a while, and made an act of contrition for a few venial sins I haven't had a chance to confess yet. Friends prayed; people lit candles. I was at peace - I felt a beautiful, total trust in God as well as the Hope of life and grace here and beyond. I still wanted the Eucharist. There is no substitute for Him. I believed it before; now I've lived it.

God isn't confined by the Sacraments. His grace is sufficient for all of us in all things, and He works in ways we can't possibly imagine. I felt completely taken care of - physically by the excellent staff at Alta View hospital, emotionally by loving friends and family, and spiritually by the Great physician - the One who gave me life in the first place and continues to love and guide and form me. But the Sacraments are a special Grace, and nothing on my end can stand in for them. I can't express what my heart has come to understand about these Channels of God's grace. As I meditate on this experience I hope to be able to find words to articulate what I've learned.

I'm profoundly grateful to have access to this Source of Grace - the Sacraments of the Catholic Church. I'm deeply sorry for the times I haven't taken advantage of them, haven't opened my heart and soul to God. I pray for those who have to go through any sort of pain or difficulty without knowing that they are Loved by Love Himself. I praise God for revealing Himself to the world and personally revealing Himself to me. I'm thankful to know of His Goodness and Mercy and Love. I'm thankful for the Saints who have gone before me and exemplified the Love of God working in them and through them - I'm especially grateful that their witness doesn't stop at their death - that God continues to work through their prayers and intercessions. And I'm thankful for the saints God had placed in my life to smile at me with, hug me with, make soup for me with, etc. I hope and pray to offer that Love to other people, and I'm sorry for the times I haven't.
Father, may my gratitude for Your Love - perfectly exemplified in our Lord Jesus Christ and perfectly bestowed though the Sacraments of Your Church - open my heart to You and to my neighbor. May my thankfulness strengthen my devotion to the Sacraments and the Church you have entrusted them too. Please use me a a channel of Your grace as I promised to be in my Baptism, and please make me holy to do all of this for Your glory. Through Jesus Christ, Amen.

Blessed Mother, thank you for your love and prayers. Please keep up the good work.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Prayer for the Heart of a Child

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Preserve in me the heart of a child,
pure and transparent as spring water.
Obtain for me a simple heart
that does not brood over sorrows;
A heart generous in giving itself,
Quick to feel compassion;
A faithful, generous heart
that forgets no favor and holds no grudge.
Give me a humble, gentle heart
Loving without asking any return;
A great indomitable heart,
That no ingratitude can close,
No indifference can weary;
A heart tortured by its desire for the glory of Jesus Christ:
Pierced by His love
With a wound that will heal only in heaven.

- Fr. Leonce de Grandmaison

Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Feast of the Visitation offers an opportunity to thank God for the people who help us to live out our vocations. These are the people we run to with our joys, fears and heartaches. They see God in us and they tell us so - strengthening us to go on becoming who we have been created to be.

This blessed day also offers a call - to be the support of anyone God sends to us. Like Elizabeth, may we meet them with open arm and hearts, and affirm in anyway we can that God is at work in them.

Holy Mary, Mother of God - pray for us!

Saint Elizabeth - pray for us!

Blessed Magnificat Day!

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour;
he has looked with favour on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed;
the Almighty has done great things for me and holy is his name.
He has mercy on those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm
and has scattered the proud in their conceit,
Casting down the mighty from their thrones
and lifting up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good thing
and sent the rich away empty.
He has come to the aid of his servant Israel,
to remember his promise of mercy,
The promise made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and his children for ever.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

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.
Heart of Jesus, Son of the Eternal Father, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, formed in the womb of the Virgin Mother by the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, united substantially with the word of God, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, of infinite majesty, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, holy temple of God, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, tabernacle of the Most High, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, house of God and gate of heaven, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, glowing furnace of charity, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, vessel of justice and love, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, full of goodness and love, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, abyss of all virtues, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, most worthy of all praise, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, king and center of all hearts, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Divinity, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom the Father is well pleased, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, of whose fullness we have all received, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, desire of the everlasting hills, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, patient and rich in mercy, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, rich to all who invoke Thee, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, fount of life and holiness, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, propitiation for our sins, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, saturated with revilings, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, crushed for our iniquities, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, made obedient unto death, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, pierced with a lance, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, source of all consolation, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, our life and resurrection, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, our peace and reconciliation, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, victim for our sins, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, salvation of those who hope in Thee, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, hope of those who die in Thee, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, delight of all saints, have mercy on us.
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.

V. Jesus, meek and humble of Heart.
R. Make our hearts like unto Thine.
Let us pray:
Almighty and everlasting God, look upon the Heart of Thy well-beloved Son and upon the acts of praise and satisfaction which He renders unto Thee in the name of sinners; and do Thou, in Thy great goodness, grant pardon to them who seek Thy mercy, in the name of the same Thy Son, Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee, world without end. Amen

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Holiness in not just an end, it is also a means. God does not make us holy for ourselves - He makes us holy for others. Holiness is nothing more and nothing less than being in love with God, and true love is always life giving. What does this mean for a cloistered nun? I asked God this question after the cyclone hit Burma. I was thinking about the voluntary vow of poverty I'm preparing to take as a Poor Clare; it's nothing compared to the desperation inflicted on billions of my brothers and sisters. I asked God, "How can I live in a beautiful monastery in Virginia, with lots of charitable Catholic patrons who bring us whatever we need, and call myself poor? I don't want to be a silly little princess living in a pretty little box, pretending to suffer valiantly for love of Christ (back of hand thrown dramatically up to forehead)."
His answer? "Pray for the coming of the Kingdom."
The Christian ideal isn't to ask for the biggest cross possible; it is to carry the cross that we are given and to do so with love, faith and hope. Love for God and for our brothers and sisters. Faith that God is with us in sufferings and joys - great and small. Hope that this story of Creation ends well because the Author is Good.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

St. Joseph the Worker, pray for us!

The following was taken directly from Universalis. Why? Because I hit the snooze alarm for an hour this morning and don't have time to write anything myself. St. Joseph is my patron Saint and has been a dear and generous friend, so I had to post something...

The feast of Saint Joseph the Worker is not a mere Catholic copying of the Communist First of May – any more than Christmas is a mere copy of the pagan feast of Saturnalia.The Christian view of work is diametrically opposed to the materialist view. A worker such as St Joseph is not a mere lump of labour – “1.00 human work units”. He is a person. He is created in God’s own image, and just as creation is an activity of God, so creation is an activity of the worker. The work we do echoes the glorious work that God has done. It may not be wasted; or abused; or improperly paid; or directed to wrong or pointless ends. To do any of these things is not oppression, it is sacrilege. The glory of the present economic system is when it gives so many, of whatever class, the chance to build and create something worthwhile, whether from their own resources, or in collaboration with others, or by attracting investment from others. But its shame is when that does not happen: when people are coerced, by greed or by poverty, into being “lumps of labour”. Whether the labour is arduous or not makes no difference; whether it is richly paid or not makes no difference.Because she must combat the anti-humanist Communist heresy the Church is sometimes thought to be on the side of capital. Reading the successive Papal encyclicals on labour and society, from Rerum Novarum (1891) onwards, will soon dispel that illusion. The enemies of the Church have no reason to read them; all too often we feel too comfortable in our present economic state and refrain from reading them also.See the Wikipedia article on Catholic social teaching.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

St. Catherine of Sienna, pray for us!

Eternal God, eternal Trinity, you have made the blood of Christ so precious through his sharing in your divine nature. You are a mystery as deep as the sea; the more I search, the more I find, and the more I find the more I search for you. But I can never be satisfied; what I receive will ever leave me desiring more. When you fill my soul I have an even greater hunger, and I grow more famished for your light. I desire above all to see you, the true light, as you really are.I have tasted and seen the depth of your mystery and the beauty of your creation with the light of my understanding. I have clothed myself with your likeness and have seen what I shall be. Eternal Father, you have given me a share in your power and the wisdom that Christ claims as his own, and your Holy Spirit has given me the desire to love you. You are my Creator, eternal Trinity, and I am your creature. You have made of me a new creation in the blood of your Son, and I know that you are moved with love at the beauty of your creation, for you have enlightened me.Eternal Trinity, Godhead, mystery deep as the sea, you could give me no greater gift than the gift of yourself. For you are a fire ever burning and never consumed, which itself consumes all the selfish love that fills my being. Yes, you are a fire that takes away the coldness, illuminates the mind with its light and causes me to know your truth. By this light, reflected as it were in a mirror, I recognise that you are the highest good, one we can neither comprehend nor fathom. And I know that you are beauty and wisdom itself. The food of angels, you gave yourself to man in the fire of your love.You are the garment which covers our nakedness, and in our hunger you are a satisfying food, for you are sweetness and in you there is no taste of bitterness, O triune God!

-From the dialogue On Divine Providence by Saint Catherine of Siena, virgin and doctor


Is all of Creation about giving Love a face?

How does God make Himself accessible to us?

How does He reveal Himself to us?

Is Revelation's purpose to make Him accessible to us?

If that is true, what responsibility does this Truth hold for those He has revealed Himself to?

If God has made Himself accessible, we are called to access Him and be a Revelation of Him to others.