Tag Archives: spirituality

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).

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. We found my aunt who may have had a heart attack and got her to the hospital. Not sure what happened, but she hadn’t answered the phone for a few days and was lying on her bedroom floor for a long time. (She doesn’t know or doesn’t want to say how long.)
  2. That my aunt’s getting good healthcare.
  3. For my friend Kristyn who came to visit the last 2 and a half days.
  4. For my friends Tundi and Kristi who are so wise and have already had to handle aging parents so they can understand and offer the wisdom needed.
  5. That it warmed up a bit today and we had sun.

What is Divinity?

What is divinity if it can come
Only in silent shadows and in dreams?
Shall she not find in comforts of the sun,
In pungent fruit and bright, green wings, or else
In any balm or beauty of the earth,
Things to be cherished like the thought of heaven?
Divinity must live within herself:
Passions of rain, or moods in falling snow;
Grievings in loneliness, or unsubdued
Elations when the forest blooms; gusty
Emotions on wet roads on autumn nights;
All pleasures and all pains, remembering
The bough of summer and the winter branch,
These are the measures destined for her soul.

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.