Category Archives: Uncategorized

From the Writer’s Almanac

It’s the birthday of St. Teresa of Ávila (books by this author), born in Gotarrendura, Spain (1515). She grew up in a wealthy household in a walled city. She was fascinated by the spiritual life even as a young girl, particularly the martyred saints. At the age of seven, she ran away from home with her younger brother, hoping to find wherever it was that the Moors lived and be martyred. Their uncle found them just outside the city and dragged them home.
Teresa was also a beautiful and social girl. She loved perfume, jewelry, and elegant clothes. Her mother died when Teresa was 14, and she was heartbroken. Her father felt that it was inappropriate for his beautiful daughter to be without a female companion, so he sent her off to a convent school, which would teach her the necessary skills to become a good wife and mother. Instead, she decided to become a nun. A couple of years later, she suffered from malaria and almost died. She survived, but her legs were paralyzed for three years. During her illness, she had mystical visions, falling into trances or levitating during times of intense rapture.

Although she stayed at the convent for 20 years, it was not the sacred place she wanted it to be. Each nun had a set of private rooms, and sometimes a personal maid. They were allowed to wear jewelry, leave the convent, and entertain daily visitors, both women and men. Teresa eventually broke away and founded the Discalced Carmelite Order (the word “discalced” means “shoeless”). In this new reform order, the nuns lived in poverty and simplicity, devoting their time to prayer, according to ancient traditions. After establishing her own monastery, Teresa traveled around Spain on a donkey, setting up 16 new monasteries for women. She also wrote several books, including The Way of Perfection (1566) and The Interior Castle (1580).


Lenten Ideas to Help Us Focus on and Become More Like Jesus

Here’s a wonderful post with ideas on Lent.

Fruitful Words

On Lent Eve (AKA Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras) I ate pancakes and decided my Lenten plan. And I wrote about the following: When I wake up on Resurrection Sunday morning, how will I be different? What am I preparing for? (Question by Rachel Held.) On Lent Eve (AKA Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras) I ate pancakes and decided my Lenten plan.  . . . .  And I wrote about the following: . . . . . When I wake up on Resurrection Sunday morning, how will I be different? What am I preparing for? (Question by Rachel Held Evans.)

I dabble in Lent. For the past 8 years I’ve done various things: given something up (social media, unnecessary spending), added something (usually a spiritual discipline), donated (money and items) to a good cause, and prayed more. I’m not of a liturgical bent, so I don’t really know what I am doing.

I never did well at fasting. I never spent extra time in confession. And come to think of it, many of my other attempts were also lame.

But I did these things to prepare myself for Easter. And while they were done imperfectly…

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The Devil is in the Details

I never dreamed we’d reach this low. Such foolishness too.

St Monica's Bridge

Harvard, I weep for you. 

Actually, I weep for all of our country and our world, but Harvard, today you get the most of these tears. I am offering up the lovely and wonderful gastro-intestinal virus I have been suffering through for your penance.

 “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”

Harvard, you’re about to find out how true that is. Satanists doing this for a joke? You’re about to find out that Satan is no joke.

But what about us Catholics? Well, they said they won’t use a consecrated host, the actual body of Christ. Or will they? Let’s not kid ourselves, if we’ve saved the Body of Christ, we’ve won a battle, but not the war. The Devil, as they say, is in the details. Satan uses confusion to muck us around and the chaos threatens to cause a severe sin…

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Deo Gratias

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Deo Gratias is Latin for “Thanks be to God.” Remembering to give thanks for all of our blessings, big and small, helps us to find God in our everyday moments and gives us an attitude of gratitude! Colleen at Thoughts on Grace has organized this meme and you can contribute by clicking here. This week I’m thankful for:

  1. A warm house with a fireplace. I don’t mind hibernating especially since I’m fortunate to not be cold. I realize that this is a luxury that many don’t have.
  2. A dryer. I’m in the U.S. now and in China we don’t have dryers for clothes. Most countries don’t. I love getting the warm towels from the dryer.
  3. Warm drinks like tea and hot chocolate. Perfect in this weather.
  4. The new-ish chaplain at church. I go to the Divine Word seminary for mass. Last summer they got a new chaplain and I love how down to earth and meaningful his homilies are. He’s able to convey Catholic teachings and rules clearly and well. It’s easy for people to dismiss the harder teachings, but there are reasons for them.
  5. The pro-life activists who are children of rape victims. I just learned about these people who advocate for pro-life by showing that their lives have value and certainly going through a trauma such as this does not mean there aren’t blessings. It takes courage and faith to make such a choice.
  6. One more: Pete Seeger, who lived a full life and gave us beautiful songs that all can sing.

You definitely got mail! What’s inside the papal postbox?

I had wondered how this was handled.

CNS Blog

UPDATE: For folks who wish to stuff those mail bags even more, here are the popes’ addresses. There is NO email because the last time they set one up for the pope, the servers crashed.

Pope Francis
Domus Sanctae Marthae
00120 Vatican City State

and

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
Mater Ecclesiae monastery
00120 Vatican City State

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis gets so much mail — about 30 large mail sacks a week — that the Vatican has set up a special office to sort through and read the overflowing stacks.

Msgr. Giuliano Gallorini of the Vatican secretariat of state is in charge of the “Papal Correspondence Office” and is assisted by a nun and two laywomen.

The sacks are brought from the Vatican post office to the “Terza Loggia” in the apostolic palace where the Vatican diplomats work. There, the papal mail team sifts through everything, sorting the…

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“We need saints.”

Wisdom from Pope Francis

The Shield About Me

The following poem is said to be inspired by Blessed Pope John Paul II

“We need saints without cassocks, without veils – we need saints with jeans and tennis shoes. We need saints that go to the movies that listen to music, that hang out with their friends. We need saints that place God in first place ahead of succeeding in any career. We need saints that look for time to pray every day and who know how to be in love with purity, chastity and all good things. We need saints – saints for the 21st century with a spirituality appropriate to our new time. We need saints that have a commitment to helping the poor and to make the needed social change. We need saints to live in the world, to sanctify the world and to not be afraid of living in the world by their presence in it…

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Dallas Willard: Divine Farmer, Sower of Truth, and All Around Good Guy

As I still ruminate over Dallas Willard’s passing, I found this insightful post.
I’m still not ready to write about Willard’s impact, but I will soon. He was one of the greatest contemporary Christian thinkers of our time.

An Ink and Paper Marriage

Truth is organic.  It’s as natural as nature.  Sometimes it hits you like an avalanche, clearing out everything else, leaving you bare and shaking.  Yet more often it’s like a plant.  The farmer casts the seeds out onto the plowed field and tends it.  He is patient.  Then by some miracle, after a certain number of suns and moons have passed overhead, a tiny little green stem with one or two leaves on it emerges from the dirt (or red clay if you’re like me and from Alabama).  The plant is at once the most fragile and tender looking thing, and yet it is fearless and possesses the hope of hardiness and strength.

This whole miracle seems to happen without the farmer.  The life of the plant appears utterly disconnected from the tanned, overalled, man with strong hands and fresh earth under his fingernails.  But it is the farmer who…

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Deo Gratias

???????????????????????????????????????

Deo Gratias is Latin for “Thanks be to God.” Remembering to give thanks for all of our blessings, big and small, helps us to find God in our everyday moments and gives us an attitude of gratitude! Colleen at Thoughts on Grace has organized this meme and you can contribute by clicking here. This week I’m thankful for:

  1. Getting to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, when Moses brought down the 10 commandments to the Isrealites, with Eva and Lynn. We went out for pizza as eating dairy is part of the celebration.
  2. The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler. I’m reading this classic hard boiled detective story for the first time. What style!
  3. Extra time. I’ve finished my grad school class for a month and finished my April writing challenge so I’ve had a little more free time on my hands. Yippee!
  4. Monsieur Lazhar, a Canadian film, about a class of 5th graders whose substitute teacher commits suicide and the Algerian man who becomes their substitute teacher. A touching, quiet movie.
  5. Friends who’re so supportive when times get tough and others don’t do what they said they would.

On Lent

SONY DSCSince I was a little girl, I have always observed the Lenten season. I grew up in a traditional Protestant church, although most of my Protestant friends from other denominations didn’t recognize the church holiday. The ritual of attending an Ash Wednesday service, meditating on the Scripture and prayers, and walking to the front of the sanctuary for the imposition of ashes became something I looked forward to as much as Christmas or Easter. Lent always symbolized a period of discipline. It was a season of growth, of a sacrifice for something greater.

I remember one year I gave up drinking soda, and went the entire forty days without a single drop of Dr. Pepper. I was in high school or middle school, and this was a pretty big deal because I’d gotten into the [VERY BAD] habit of drinking a bottle during my after-lunch math class. For Easter lunch I…

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Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen

The lyrics aren’t traditional, but it does show the brokenness that is often part of life.