January 2, 2017

On Thanksgiving this year we had a full church and, as is our habit, everyone spoke on what they were thankful for. Took 45 minutes and no one complained. When it was my turn I said that this year I thanked God for leading me to my friend Daniel and the friendship we share. Why is that? Let me tell you a story about my friend, Daniel. 


I first noticed Daniel more than two years ago, at Sunday Mass in St. Therese. He would sit on the left, five rows back next to the side aisle. He walked with a limp, sometimes a cane. His clothing was obviously used and worn, rumpled and sometimes, stained, though he invariably wore a suit jacket and what looked like his one, all-purpose tie. He carried...

December 18, 2016

As I researched Christmas customs recently, I discovered the meaning behind some of them that many people, even Christians, are probably not aware of. I found the symbolism interesting. Maybe you will too.

Christmas  The name for this feast comes from “Christ Mass” because Mass was celebrated in honor of the birth of Christ. The short form of Christmas, Xmas, comes from the Greek word for Christ, which is also the origin of the chi-rho symbol used for Christ in Christian art.

December 25  This date was chosen for the celebration of Jesus’ birth because it was the day the Romans celebrated the feast of the invincible Sun and the Persians celebrated the birth of their god Mithras.

Christmas...

December 11, 2016

The average American will spend close to $800 this year on Christmas gifts. That number is for the average person, not even the average family, which would be much higher. Most Americans will also take on some credit debt this Christmas in order to get their loved ones all the gifts they want. Of course, all of this spending is in the name of Jesus, the reason for the season, right?

Even good stewards can easily get sucked into excessive spending at Christmas time. We have been programmed by our culture to see the season as the time for giving better gifts than at any other time of the year. But the reality is that Christmas should be seen as a time where those outward things matter the...

December 4, 2016

Matt Harding, a native of Connecticut, was working as a video-game designer in Australia. In his early 20’s, he found his work “insulating.” So he decided to quit his job and travel the world with a couple of friends. On a whim, his friends took videos of him dancing in front of one famous landmark after another. Matt is not a dancer. One observer described Matt’s kind of dance as “an awkward limb-flailing dance of joy.”

Matt uploaded these short clips of him dancing to his website for his family and friends. A few videos later, Matt’s dancing went viral. But he soon got bored dancing alone, so he sought other people to dance with him. He now has produced several videos with him dancing...

November 18, 2016

My favorite hideaway when I need some extra quiet and prayer is a “Secret Garden.”  A small oasis located in the Missouri Botanical Garden, it’s surrounded by a hedge that provides just enough solitude and silence. It never fails to calm my spirit.

So it was that a week ago I made my way there. The sun was bright and the air crisp. Breathing deeply as I entered the garden, I was astonished to see iris blooming. In November? Feeling like Moses with the burning bush, I felt I had to get closer to this unusual sight. Sure enough, dazzling iris were blooming and beautiful.  And as the accompanying sign declared, these were reblooming iris. They bloom in the spring, but also have the ability...

November 2, 2016

My daughter and I are experiencing a big transition this year: her first year of high school. It seems like just yesterday she was in elementary school making macaroni necklaces. Now she’s solving advanced algebraic equations, getting up at 5:30 a.m. for ‘zero hour’, carrying a full load of classes, (the likes of which I didn’t encounter until college), coming home and working on homework from 3:00 - 9:00 p.m. with an occasional break to eat or check social media before falling into bed exhausted; all this only to wake up groggy the next morning and repeat it all again. And in case that weren’t enough, insert into this backdrop, the constant and unrelenting pressure to be skinny, look...

October 15, 2016

I’ve been thinking a lot about the human condition lately. The headlines in the news have stimulated my thinking.

The phrase human condition is in itself interesting. Being human is a condition—maybe like heart burn or asthma. It’s a condition (though marvelous at times) that comes with built-in limitations.

We’re human. That means we make mistakes. (Isn’t that what the poet Alexander Pope said? “To err is human.”) We’re human. We don’t know the future. We’re human. We’re prone to certain drives or illnesses. We’re human. We’re going to die. Being human means we have very little say-so over our lives. Often we are beset by circumstances beyond our control—-the economy, health i...

When you miss an important message, when the toilet overflows, when the pork chops burn, when all your hard work seems futile, when the lawn mower doesn’t start, when you break a fingernail or glass, when you can’t find a parking space, when you’ve lost your date book, and when you wonder why you even got up in the morning and whether anything at all has been achieved on your bad day, there is a cure for your day-long frustration. Just take a moment to think of God, how much God loves you—even delights in you. Anthony de Mello wrote, “Behold the One beholding you, and smiling.” Does anything matter compared to God’s smile?

Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider, SND is a Sister of Notre Dame of the...

You have probably heard of Gregory Boyle’s book Tattoos on the Heart. The title comes from a situation in which Boyle catches Sharkey doing the right thing and telling him that his courage made him a “giant among men.” Sharkey responded, “I’m gonna tattoo that on my heart.”

When I read Scripture, I am sometimes struck with a phrase I don’t want to forget. “O God, don’t let me forget.  I need this. Tattoo it on my heart. Imprint it on my mind.” Here are some lines I hope are tattooed onto my heart:

            Yet not my will but yours be done.

            Of his fullness we have all had a share—love                   following upon love....

September 25, 2016

This week, we got into a lively discussion with two inmates at the jail.  They were on fire with their faith and it was refreshing to hear young men speak of their love for God.  Near the end of our time together, one of the inmates took a hand-written, folded letter on notebook paper from his bible.  He asked if he could read it and he did.  It was a Fathers letter and every line was taken from scripture.  I had never heard it before, but he was really moved and motivated by the message, and I could tell that the rest of the group was moved when he read it.  I know I was!  He didn’t know the origin or who had done the beautiful research for the letter, but after a couple of Google sea...

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