Tag Archives: church

Thankful Woman’s Book of Blessings


On Wednesdays, Judy, creator of an inspiring blog, A Thankful Woman’s Book of Blessings encouraged participants to list their blessings, to give thanks for the five things in the past week and then link to her blog. Judy has since stopped blogging, but giving thanks is a good spiritual practice so I’ll continue.

This week I am thankful for:

  1. The Way, a film with Martin Sheen about a grieving father who hikes along the Way of St. James in Spain.
  2. A safe and interesting trip to Champaign, Illinois for my Library Science orientation.
  3. Winter comfort food like chicken and dumplings or pot roast.
  4. My friend Mary, from high school. Though she’s moved far away we’re still on the same wavelength. She’s going through a tough time and I pray it doesn’t last much longer. She’s a dear person.
  5. Old priests. Where would we be without them? The priest who said mass Sunday was ordained in 1962 and one who came a few weeks before was in his late 80s. Still pretty lively.

A Reminder

Church is a sacred space where we distance ourselves from worldly annoyances and concerns so that we can concentrate on God. Please do turn off your phones during mass. Please teach your children to do the same. While Christmas mass is longer than usual, it’s highly meaningful and a great opportunity to connect with God. By texting, playing games and conducting business, you are literally turning away from God.

Even if you’re not thrilled with the homily or music, you never know how God will present Himself to you at any given time. Be open!

Thankful Woman’s Book of Blessings

On Wednesdays, Judy, creator of an inspiring blog, A Thankful Woman’s Book of Blessings encourages participants to list their blessings, to give thanks for the five things in the past week and then link to Judy’s blog.


Be sure to also check out her other blog and her website when you visit.
This week I am thankful for:

  1. The lovely fall days we’re having. It’s just a touch cooler so I want a sweater, but the sky is often sunny and clear.
  2. The joy inherent in creating new lessons. I’ve been having a good time developing new lessons for my students. This creative aspect of my work is such fun and keeps teaching fresh.
  3. That my former roommate Alison, came to Jinan and we got to visit. We lived together in Indonesia and her friend got married in Jinan so we got to spend time together and have a good long talk over the weekend. It’s a small world.
  4. That although I have a cold, it’s not such a bad one.
  5. Getting to see more Catholic churches in China. The one below is in Kaifeng, south of here.

Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, Kaifeng, Henan, China


Built in 1917


A Letter to the Preservation Trust

I got a solicitation from a parish that I stopped attending. I got the same thing last year and replied in the same vein. It’s pitiful that the ONLY communication I receive from the church is a plea for money this time to keep the architecture pristine. Well, it is easier to fix a building than to fix or minister to people.

Would it kill them to occasionally mail out a note that isn’t asking for money? Can’t they send a prayer or poem?

Here’s what I wrote.

Preservation Trust
[Church Address]

Dear [Parish Committee],

It’s just sad that you sent me this solicitation for more money for yet another building project. In fact, receiving the solitication validated my decision to stop attending Old St. Pat’s because while the parish has several good points, there was a dearth of community that I’ve come to see as key to Christian living.

Two years ago I was struck by the observation that while I’d attended Old St. P’s since the 1980s, there was little besides rousing hymns and eloquent homilies. Community was lacking and the pre-mass hand shaking started to emphasize that point. A mass that provokes thought and action inspired by the gospel is good, but I can get the same words and music on the radio, the internet, on CD or in books. I don’t need to drive to Old St. P’s for it.

I realize you offer social clubs, but I have friends and am far more interested in relationships with a spiritual component from my church.

I do commend you for your social justice outreach, but the times I’ve gone to a shelter or program, I’ve found rewarding as an act of giving, but lacking in community. It’s like showing up for the Red Cross earthquake relief. There’s short term cordiality, but nothing deep.

It’s not impossible to offer community. I found it at my parish in South Pasadena. They had inter-generational as well as more targeted programs. They had weekly Bible study, which would be the first step I think you could take. It doesn’t have to be a grand, complex program, but I know you could do better.

It’s sad that in 2007 and again in 2009 I never received a reply or acknowledgement of any kind when I wrote to your pastor and to make him aware of the need that a Catholic church in Makassar, Indonesia, where I had once lived, had been burned down and was in need of money to rebuild. Is building a new addition to the masterpiece that is Old St. P’s more important than helping Catholic brothers and sisters who are persecuted?

On occasion I’ve written to the cardinal and he’s always managed to reply with carefully written letters. Yet Fr. H has never replied to any of the three letters I’ve written him. Moreover, throughout the year, the only written communication I get from Old St. P’s is a solicitation. Moody Bible has sent me monthly booklets.

So I think I’ll pass on the opportunity to donate to a new building project and I’ll pray that [Parish] decides to tackle its Great Omission, the lack of Christian community.



I left out the name of this church because too many churches fall into the same trap.

A Thankful Woman’s Book of Blessings

On Wednesdays, Judy, creator of an inspiring blog, A Thankful Woman’s Book of Blessings encourages participants to list their blessings, to give thanks for the five things in the past week and then link to Judy’s blog.

Be sure to also check out her other blog and her website when you visit.

  1. The South Cathedral in Beijing. I visited this 17th century church, the first in China, on Sunday and luckily got there for an English mass. People were there from Africa, Europe, North American and Asia. Maybe there were some South Americans, I’m not sure. I loved how international and harmonious the mass was.
  2. Moby Dick, my book club’s selection for May and June. It’s a much livelier read than I expected. I am glad that we aren’t pushing ourselves to finish in one month, but rather will take 2. My ebook is 847 pages.
  3. The National Art Museum of China. I spent the afternoon there on Saturday and it wasn’t crowded. There were plenty of masterful paintings on display.
  4. My friend, a new friend, Maya whom I had dinner with and wonderful lively conversation.
  5. Midday Connection’s program on “Almost Amish,” a fascinating book on how to simplify one’s life.



What the . . . ?

Commonweal‘s weekly email led me to an essay responding to a preposterous ad that aims to persuade liberal and nominal Catholics to quit the church because its teachings are “out of step with the times”. Is this for real?

Yep. As bizarre and poorly thought out as it sounds, these folks are for real.

I have to pity the people who put the ad out there to begin with.  They just don’t get that being Catholic or Christian or a believer of any faith is not the same as say belonging to a club like the Boy Scouts or Lions. Certainly, there are many with superficial faith, who did get a weak education or catechism, and they’ve got a slew of wrong ideas about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the church. That’s an issue the church needs to address, but I am glad that the church doesn’t just follow what’s popular and takes a long view.

I do agree that some changes need to be made in the church, but not based on this ad or the ideology of those who paid for it. The church constantly needs to strive for correct teaching. It’s not a job that’s ever done, but that doesn’t mean we need to fit in with the outside culture as it shifts and stumbles along.

Catholicism  goes deeper and it ought to. Yes, those who’s faith is like seed on rock may leave, but most of them left already, sadly. The church is not all about how many members there are. It shouldn’t be at least. Even if half the Catholics left, which I doubt would happen, this religion is here to stay. Every 500 years or so the church faces a major crisis and it looks like it’s in jeopardy, but it has always bounced back and grown.

Ironically, this little ad may wind up bringing people to Catholicism.

Glorious Beauty

in New Orleans, French Quarter