November 21, 2017

Many of us are familiar with Charles Dickens’ famous novel, A Tale of Two Cities. (Perhaps you were forced to read the book by some conscientious high school English teacher—like me!) The book opens with those memorable words: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Dickens was describing 18th Century France. In one way it was the best of times, for the “Rights of Man” had just been promulgated. But in another way it was the worst of times, for the French Revolution was marked by terror, death, and destruction.

How would you describe our own times? Is it the best of times or the worst of times? I think there is a tendency in many of us to think we are living in...

November 1, 2017

The Church – A Home Blessed and Broken
Published Oct 3, 2017 in Catholic Writing, Faith & Family, Spirituality ~ Approx 4 mins
 

The house I grew up in is full of broken things. Our appliances live on a cycle of breaking one after the other, the basement is usually damp, and the furniture has holes in it. Our cars almost always have a cracked bumper, the furnace breaks not infrequently during the Minnesota winters, and because of my siblings and I playing ball in the house, the dozens of saint statues are missing their heads. When I was younger this messy, broken house embarrassed me. Now, I cherish it.


I recently read The World Will be Saved by Beauty, Kate Hennessy’s biography of her...

August 7, 2017

When my wife was pregnant with our first child, I remember putting headphones on her stomach and playing classical music and the Beach Boys so my unborn child could develop a love for music. Some say such an action can work. Others say I was nuts. Either way, I don’t care because I was forming a bond with my child before I even really knew him. When my first son was born, he didn’t start singing Good Vibrations, but it was as if we had already on some form of communication going on between us.

The Lord said to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.” God knew Jeremiah, and he knew us, even bef...

Every day we are bombarded with bad news: bombs exploding at airports and concerts, refugees fleeing from war-torn countries, people flooded out of their homes, individuals overdosing on drugs. It’s enough to make you weep. It’s enough to make you depressed.

But then I saw something on the CBS news a couple of weeks ago about Mr. Rogers, the creator and star of the children’s program, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. He told the children something his mother had said to him when he was a child and was afraid when he saw bad things happening around him: “Look for the helpers.”

When you see the aftermath of a terrorist bombing, look for the helpers; that is, look for the people com...

My family prayed the rosary every night usually in the living room or traveling in a car. There was no thought of ever skipping the rosary, but when there was an exceptionally good program on TV, we prayed the rosary during the commercials. We learned there’s always time to get your prayers “in.”

Vacation time is upon us. In our relaxation and travels will we make time to pray and attend worship? Perhaps even doing a bit more for our spiritual lives? Look ahead to plan prayer in your vacation. I have often given students a calendar of their summer vacation. Students were encouraged to choose colors that represented how they might remember “There’s no vacation from your Christian vocatio...

“The Lord gave me, Brother Francis, thus to begin doing penance in this way: for when I was in sin, it seemed too bitter for me to see lepers.  And the Lord Himself led me among them and I showed mercy to them.  And when I left them, what had seemed bitter to me was turned into sweetness of soul and body.”  –St Francis of Assisi in his Testament

There is an often told story of St. Francis of Assisi and an encounter with a leper.  I’ve seen many different versions.  The stories might be different but the life lesson is the same.

Francis, and most people at that time, had a fear of lepers.  When they would hear the bell that lepers were required to ring to alert others of th...

June 22, 2017

Sometimes we are in a rut regarding our prayer. One remedy is to try out a new way of praying. A change might be just the thing to jumpstart a faltering spiritual life and renew our friendship with God. If you have never prayed with a labyrinth, you might explore this centuries-old prayer method, which has become popular again. A labyrinth is different from a maze, which has several possible paths on which you can meet dead ends and get lost. A labyrinth has only one simple path that weaves around within a circle and leads to the center, which represents God. Its four quarters are set around a cross. Praying a labyrinth involves the body as well as the mind.

A bit of history: Christians...

My youngest son has occasional bouts with asthma. When it hits him, he feels like he is almost drowning, gasping for air. It is a terrible thing to think about, suffocating with no option for air. Luckily, an inhaler opens up that which was closed and air comes rushing back inside his lungs.

The Latin words spiritus and spirare mean “breath’ and “to breathe.” It is how we get the word spirit and the name, Holy Spirit, for it is the Spirit in us that gives us breath. Some describe the Spirit as that which provides life and animation to all living things, a life force of sorts. In essence, we live and breathe the Spirit all around us.

I have to admit, that is...

Many people frantically run through the day, although students on summer break might be exempt from the hurry-hurry, “got-no-time.” While summer may afford a bit more leisure, leisure is still a commodity hard to come by.  Who has time for leisure?

    David Steindl-Rast has said that leisure is not the privilege of those who have time. Rather leisure is the virtue lived by persons who give to each instant of life the time it deserves. When you think about it, wasn’t Jesus a man of leisure? Certainly he was always on the move—that long journey to Jerusalem that covers much of Luke’s Gospe? But note the ways Jesus gives each instant the time it deserves, as he walks along the way. The ap...

May 14, 2017

I am so fortunate that today, after 6 years of living abroad, I get to spend mother’s day with my mother! As I have previously written about in a very early post, The Mother
Heart of God
, mothers
have been very important for my spiritual
journey. It was only when I began to see the
image of God as a compassionate mother that
I have been able to change what I believe
God truly is, Love.
Sometimes when we are going through hard times all we really need is
that mother hug – the all embracing hug that doesn’t judge but loves unconditionally. The mother that asks us to relax in her arms and allows us to just breathe, or sob, or be angry.  Some of us don’t always have a great image of mother...

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