Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.

Now this solemnity/feast is one that causes so much hubub, so often! And really, that kind of baffles me….because this title, it just makes so much sense. Try being a pregnant woman, with ALL that entails and then decide if you’re entitled to be called the mother of that little baby, or not. Try giving birth, nursing, wiping, swaddling, hugging, smooching, smelling that little amazing being……see if you know in your bones that this has changed who you are, ontologically. Go, ahead, I’ll wait…….. See? Right. Exactly. Kerfuffle soothed. For me anyhow. She bore Christ, brought him to us. And, she raised loved nurtured fed rocked taught him. She wiped his nose, kissed scratches, rubbed his head and rolled her eyes sometimes, I betcha. He was a boy, too. Hers. She’s the mom. I’m a mom, I can totally relate. Except for the whole sinless, divine child angle…….Still…..

It’s a big feast. It’s Mary, Mother of God! I love her, this solemnity, this IS cause for celebration.

And…for those of you who just need to tease out the objections, read below:

Mary, Mother of God

by Father William Saunders

I was visiting an inner-city Church one day and in the vestibule some graffiti was written on the wall which said, “Catholics, God has no mother,” obviously referring to Mary’s title as “Mother of God.” How does one respond to such an objection? — A reader in Springfield

As Catholics, we firmly believe in the incarnation of our Lord: Mary conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Lk 1:26-38 and Mt 1:18-25) Through her, Jesus Christ–second person of the Holy Trinity, one-in-being (consubstantial) with the Father, and true God from true God–entered this world, taking on human flesh and a human soul. Jesus is true God and true man. In His person are united both a divine nature and a human nature.

Mary did not create the divine person of Jesus, who existed with the Father from all eternity. “In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly ‘Mother of God’ (Theotokos)” (CCC, No. 495). As St. John wrote, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us, and we have seen His glory: The glory of an only Son coming from the Father filled with enduring love” (Jn 1:14).

For this reason, sometime in the early history of the Church, our Blessed Mother was given the title “Mother of God.” St. John Chrysostom (d. 407), for example, composed in his Eucharistic Prayer for the Mass an anthem in honor of her: “It is truly just to proclaim you blessed, O Mother of God, who are most blessed, all pure and Mother of our God. We magnify you who are more honorable than the Cherubim and incomparably more glorious than the Seraphim. You who, without losing your virginity, gave birth to the Word of God. You who are truly the Mother of God.”

However, objection to the title “Mother of God” arose in the fifth century, due to confusion concerning the mystery of the incarnation. Nestorius, Bishop of Constantinople (428-431), incited a major controversy. He stated that Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ, a regular human person, period. To this human person was united the person of the Word of God (the divine Jesus). This union of two persons–the human Christ and the divine Word– was “sublime and unique” but merely accidental. The divine person dwelt in the human person “as in a temple.” Following his own reasoning, Nestorius asserted that the human Jesus died on the cross, not the divine Jesus. As such, Mary is not “Mother of God,” but simply “Mother of Christ”–the human Jesus. Sound confusing? It is, but the result is the splitting of Christ into two persons and the denial of the incarnation.

St. Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria (d. 440) refuted Nestorius, asserting, “It was not that an ordinary man was born first of the Holy Virgin, on whom afterwards the Word descended; what we say is that, being united with the flesh from the womb, (the Word) has undergone birth in the flesh, making the birth in the flesh His own…” This statement affirms the belief asserted in the first paragraph.

On June 22, 431, the Council of Ephesus convened to settle this argument. The Council declared, “If anyone does not confess that the Emmanuel is truly God and therefore that the holy Virgin is the Mother of God (Theotokos) (since she begot according to the flesh the Word of God made flesh), anathema sit.” Therefore, the Council officially recognized that Jesus is one person, with two natures–human and divine–united in a true union. Second, Ephesus affirmed that our Blessed Mother can rightfully be called the Mother of God. Mary is not Mother of God, the Father, or Mother of God, the Holy Spirit; rather, she is Mother of God, the Son–Jesus Christ. The Council of Ephesus declared Nestorius a heretic, and the Emperor Theodosius ordered him deposed and exiled. (Interestingly, a small Nestorian Church still exists in Iraq, Iran and Syria.)

The incarnation is indeed a profound mystery. The Church uses very precise–albeit philosophical–language to prevent confusion and error. Nevertheless, as we celebrate Christmas, we must ponder this great mystery of how our divine Savior entered this world, taking on our human flesh, to free us from sin. We must also ponder and emulate the great example of our Blessed Mother, who said, “I am the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to Thy word.” May we turn to her always as our own Mother, pleading, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”

Fr. Saunders is president of Notre Dame Institute and associate pastor of Queen of Apostles Parish, both in Alexandria.

St Max, he rocks!


Today is the feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe!
He is my son Jon’s patron and one very awesome saint. He is a ‘modern’ saint, of the twentieth century, completely devoted to Mary and a Franciscan. He was media savvy and current before anyone even knew what that meant (which also is fitting for him to be one of Jon’s patrons).  But what St. Maximilan is known for is his sacrifice, his martrydom of charity. St. Maximilian was sent to Auschwitz Concentration camp, for being a Catholic and a priest. After ministering to his fellow prisoners during his time there, sick and hungry as the rest, Maximilian made the ultimate sacrifice: he stepped forward and volunteered to go to his death in order to spare a father of a family from this fate. St. Maximilian went to his death in a father’s place; dying after two weeks of forced starvation and ultimately, an injection of carbolic acid (and forgiving the one who gave him that shot as he was injected). As such, not only is he a hero, among many other things, he is the patron of families.

We are big on family here around the coffeeblog. And we have been praying a novena to St. Maximilian on behalf of one special young college guy I know….  And the prayers of a righteous man, a saint and patron of families, who knows from sacrificial living, are worth much. So, thank you St. Maximilian, for your patronage of my son.

Happy feast day Booboo!

St. Maximilian Kolbe, thank you for your prayers!

Going UP, please….

Today is the Feast of the Ascension of Christ.

“Ascension of Christ” by Salvadore Dali

Really.  Doesn’t the entire concept just blow the mind?
Well, it does mine, anyhow.  Now, I have written before about this, and how it kind of always boggles my mind.  Because I am a visual kind of gal, I always get stuck in the imagining of this event, in the unimaginable visuals.  My mind wants to do a whole movie panorama on it, more old Cecil B DeMille flicks, less Spielberg…but I digress.  My point is that I can get all hung up in trying to SEE this, visualize and understand it….which of course totally misses the point.  As usual.
But there are two cool parts to this that I could spend the rest of my life meditating upon, and in fact it would surely do me much good. I won’t, but I should.
The first part is the whole concept that Jesus went to prepare a place for us.   He went to get things ready for us, at HOME.  Home.  Not our current abodes, apartments, houses, condos…but our true home.  And that is with Him, eternally, in heaven (I hope and pray). I mean,  how cool is that?? I don’t know about  you, but I’m  not the greatest hostess on the planet.  I failed Martha Stewart 101.  I have to write post-its to remember to put nice folded towels in the guest bath.  But here, the God of the Universe, of everything, is heading off to prepare a place for us! Now I don’t know what that entails in heaven and all, but even still, he’s already on the details and is prepping with each of us in mind.  Really, how cool is that?
I know I know, this is really talking about bigger picture stuff, but even so, God is in the details too and  you know it.  Ever looked at the marbling in granite?? Or the  marbling in marble? Huh? Stared into a tiger lily? Don’t tell me that God doesn’t pay attention to the tiny details…so I can marvel that Christ left the apostles, ascended even (another spectacular detail),  to go and prepare a place for us, the best place: Home.  Ahhhhh……joy.
The second part of this very cool event, this mind tripping visual, is that this ascension also signified a new and different status for the apostles…which of course trickles right down to us, to me.  He said to them that he would go, but he would send the Holy Spirit and then they were going to be sent too.  Out.  To witness.  To tell the world about this wild amazing truth, this mind blowing love.  That it was real.  He let those apostles SEE him ascend, not just fade away like the Cheshire Cat with his grin the last to go…
Nope, Christ ascended as they watched (and surely, gaped and pointed, nudged and grabbed each other and held out their hands and maybe both laughed a bit and cried a bit too).    But certainly they had to be electrified; how could you not? Surely, this very change from followers of the earthly bodily Jesus to witnesses was facilitated by this ascension.  I mean, literally, they witnessed it.  They witnessed it all: yeah, the ascension, but also Christ himself on earth, his miracles, his passion, his resurrection, his heart, his voice, his smell, his smile.
They knew him, like the world could not.
And thus they were the first, sent out with a bang – a spectacular electric jolt – to bring that excitement to everyone.  Big job, but then again, big cool.  Much to think about with this day….

Ascension of Christ, by Garofalo, 1520

O King of Glory,
Lord of Hosts,
Who didst this day ascend in triumph
above all the heavens!
Leave us not orphans,
but send upon us the Spirit of Truth,
promised by the Father.
The Liturgical Year: Book 9
*disclaimer: some of this post from several years back.  Very swamped w/ family life, but liturgical life is still so cool that I want to mark it, always!

O Jerusalem…

It’s Palm Sunday.

Tissot, Christ's Procession into Jerusalem

It’s the day we commemorate Christ’s “joyful” entry into Jerusalem. This day he fulfills the prophecy and enters not only Jerusalem but the walk to his Passion.

It’s an odd day; joyful and hard too. It’s the day I face my not so hidden inner hypocrite, every year. That’s always uncomfortable, like getting snared in brambles. But these are of my own selfish thorns. It’s the day that we ALL enter into Holy Week. Lent is refined and the chaff of it burned off…into the high holy days of the year, the silent clanging shuffle of the Via Dolorosa.

Tissot, Christ's entry to Jerusalem

But, look more closely at that painting just above. See there, under Christ’s feet? Those heads don’t look so joyous, so awestruck. They are not waving to get his attention or autograph…there is an undercurrent of malevolence. And that, right there, is what Christ was really approaching. He knew it. We do too.

So, this morning, what sticks in my head are his words from that moment, right before he entered Jerusalem and kickstarted the week of his passion:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” Matthew 23:37

So, as I stand in Mass this morning, juggling my palm and the palm swords of my distracted little boys….as I choke out the words of the gospel, “crucify him,” I will remember that he just wanted to gather us in. And we would not.

Have a blessed Holy Week….it begins…


It’s Saint Patricks Day!  

And this is the gist of it, especially as we meet the midpoint of lent

(from the prayer “St Patrick’s breastplate”):

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

More links for St Paddy's here, click pic

Happy St Patrick’s Day! 

Stepping forward.

Today is the day.  Ash Wednesday.  I’ve written a bunch about this in years past.  But this link at Aggie Catholics has the yearly roundup (always updated to be current w/ good links) and here is what’s important to remember as well.  So, instead of my yammering on about it, this video below is a good quickie summary for us attention and/or time challenged folks. Take a look, it’s the fast 411 on Lent.

So, wishing you a rich and good Lent.  Into the desert.  Steady on…..

Little Girl Lamb

It’s the feast of St Agnes today.

St Agnes by Zurburan

She is often depicted in art with a lamb; her name means “lamb” in Latin, “pure” in the Greek.  Thus, the iconography.  Not surprisingly, she is the patron of  young girls…more specifically,  the patron of young girls who have been victims of sexual assault.  Correspondingly, she is the patron of chastity, which is a topic I have been mulling for years now with the teens filling my house.  How to teach what the concept really means, the fullness of that word..not the tiny limited prudery that is inferred by our attention deficit surface dweller culture, but rather the mind blowing actuality of what true chastity/keeping to the truth of who we are – heart soul and body – can bring.  But that’s a whole ‘nother post, to be sure.

Anyhow, I  have four teens now. St Agnes is a patron I will continue to hit up for prayers; for my girls’ courage and perseverance and sure inner guidance to what’s true and truly good….for them not to get sucked into and wounded, literally or emotionally or spiritually, by this sordid hard world we live in.  Because we all need all the help we can get.

St Agnes, by El Greco, of course.

From the Collect (prayers for the day): 

Almighty ever-living God, who choose what is weak in the world to confound the strong, mercifully grant, that we, who celebrate the heavenly birthday of your Martyr Saint Agnes, may follow her constancy in the faith. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


Advent is here! Happy New Year!

It’s the first day of Advent, which means of course that it’s the first day of the new year – the new liturgical year, I mean.

So, it’s an exciting day, liturgically speaking!  Not quite the kind accompanied by fireworks and excessive alcohol….better.

We prayed with the new missal at Mass today…and, frankly, I was kinda expecting a really bumbling stumbling through it.  I thought it was sound and feel all awkward and even a little weird.  You know, old dog, new tricks and all…me.  But it wasn’t! It didn’t feel so at all.  It was actually  kind of lovely.  It is a good new change, to more sacred language.  Also, there was just a great attention, and intention to the prayers, mine at least, probably  and particularly because it’s new and thus cannot fall into habit.  Today required more FOCUS than many days.  Ok, see, I admit it, I am possibly the most distractible person you could find.  And that’s saying something as I have several kids with bona fide ADHD…so, really, I know from distraction!  (And yeah, save the flaming on the adhd topic….really dated debates there; been there, done that….).  

Anyhow, so it’s a really quietly lovely day. My Jon is heading back up to college to finish off his semester, but he’ll be home again soon, happily.  It’s my Goddaughter’s birthday as well, happy bday  Livie!  It’s a quiet full Sunday.  We have new really  beautiful prayer and responses to savor.  We have a new liturgical year to start all fresh and focused.  And, of course, last in this post but not least, it’s the first day of Advent.  I’m pulling out my Advent candles and my celtic table wreath in prep for dinner, when we will light the first long purple taper.  We have set out on our walk toward Bethlehem, a road that is mostly interior though it has lovely exterior sights to see and ruts to avoid.

So, we begin.  Happy New Year, walk with me, I love the company….

photo source

Feast of Corpus Christi!

This is a very important feast in Christendom and our Catholic church.  It’s a beautiful feast and last year we had the privilege of being in Orvietto for the famous Eucharistic Procession there at the Cathedral.  Truly a once in a lifetime experience!  This video is the classic chant for this feast, written by St. Thomas Aquinas, himself and simply uplifting and beautiful.

Enjoy while you scan the pics from Orvietto below…it’s almost like being there!

Orvietto Cathedral

And, just because this is another one of those “mysteries” that is all but impossible to wrap  your mind around; it’s to be accepted and embraced by faith with heart and soul.  You kind of open up the heart and eyes of your soul and then this song and this feast floods in.

I totally believe it, even as I will never intellectually understand it fully.  But that doesn’t matter……It’s all grace.  And so very very good.

Triple Love


Detail of "Holy Trinity" by El Greco, of course

It’s the Feast of the Holy Trinity!

Which means it’s another day of mystery, with a capital M.  This mystery is one of the biggies, of course.  Uber Catholic to boot {we Catholics love a good mystery!}.  One that really, we are not truly meant to fully figure out – because as soon as you think you have; you’ve probably fallen into presumption (with a capital P) and are not on target to boot.

So, here’s what we do know, ok, let’s be more precise, what I think about this day: it’s a feast of love, really.  How’s that? Well, God the Father so loved everything, but even more so,us, that he gave us his Son, and the love between those two was so immeasurably great that it begat it’s own third “person”: the Holy Spirit.  Thus those three began the “begatting” that we read in the Old Testament (pages and pages of it, right?) and that, when we are doing it right, here on earth, begets us each other.

The Trinity was and is (and ever will be) the prime, premier, example of how to love – well and truly.  And that right there, is enough mystery for my little brain for, um, the rest of  my life.  Which is really, of course, part of it’s charm.  Mind blowing charm and goodness.  Something to celebrate. And that’s why it’s a feast day: was then, is now, and will be forever.  Amen.

Happy Feast of the Holy Trinity!







Falling Fire

It’s the Feast of Pentecost!

Makoto Fujimura, "January Hour - Pentecost"

I love this feast, not only for the terrific art through the centuries, the storytelling and imagery of it all….but for the entire concept of it.  It’s truly one of the mysteries in life and yet, it’s one we get to walk through often as well.

What? Sound a bit crazy?  Maybe…but I know and I bet you do too that you have had times when you were able to say something to a friend or family or someone that was totally the perfect thing to say, and you had NO idea you were going to say it.  And right after those words slipped out, you kind of marveled at them.  Did you really say that? Well…yeah.  Wow.  Good job and um, it wasn’t you.  Right? I know that very thing has happened to me.  Many more times than once.  And used to be, I’d kind of sit there and think, “Wow, how clever am I and who’da thunk it“…..until it dawned on me (like a beam whacked across my forehead) that um, it wasn’t me after all.  No way.  Now, I know better.  It’s NOT me.  It’s the Holy Spirit and when it happens, I’ve basically just finally shut up long enough to give Him an edge, an opening.  Really, I should do it more often.  I know, I know.

I get to feel it in my parenting too.  Not often enough of course cause I’m typically way too busy getting in the way with  my controlling ideas.  But, when I’ve been able to slow down and step aside, either through sheer exhaustion or sheer empty brain cells, then I’ve gotten the gift of seeing someone, something else at work.  And I marvel.  Because then sometimes if I quietly let that fire fall on me and through my arms I can bring my kids into the warm embrace of it – and we love and heal and grow.  At least for a moment or two before I start slapping it out with my own schedule and commands and ideas; back to the buzz.  But those moments, ah, they are gold.  They really do kinda glow.

And that’s why I love this Feast. It reminds us that we can walk through falling fire. It doesn’t burn.  It’s a little bit of magic in our world, but better.  Because it’s grace.

Below is the song that I wake with, every feast of Pentecost.  It’s my tune for the day.

08 Let The Fire Fall

Happy Feast of Pentecost!

Girl Feast: the Visitation

Today is the Feast of the Visitation!

I saw this in the Uffizi, one of my fav's

That means that today we celebrate and remember when Mary went to her cousin Elizabeth, who was pregnant with the soon to be born John the Baptist. I love this image, I love this whole concept.  It’s one of my favorite mysteries of the rosary….and I’ve wondered why it speaks to me so.  But I think, really, it’s that whole connection thing, once again.

The connections that we make, especially we women, are so important.  They mean everything, in a way.  It took me a long time to get there, way past the awkward high school years and the striving driven, boyfriend focused, college years.  But as I’ve grown older and into the woman I am now in middle age and hopefully was meant to be (mostly), I have grown also into some of the richest relationships: friendships with women.  My girl friends are such a support; even the virtual ones through email, phones, and blogging…the support gained and given through these friendships with other women give me such strength.  They have pulled me out of deepest indigo blues, they have encouraged me forward in burnout and despair, they have brainstormed with me in mom dilemmas, they have brightened days with a good laugh.  They have called me out from my selfishness, they have told me when the swimsuit is just too tired and for pity’s sake go buy a new one.  They have listened to me vent and cry and rage and brag; saved my marriage a few times and my child’s backside as well.  They are generous, genious, kind, caring, prayerful gals…..and I hope and pray I have returned the favor more than once and can continue to.  In person, blog, email or phone, it all counts.

I think that is why I love this feast so.  Mary did it first.  She found out she was with child, and in her first trimester she journeyed to her cousin.  Now, we all know what that first trimester is like: such exhaustion, illness, hunger, sleepy fatigue. And Mary set out on a long journey to be with her dear friend, her cousin.  She didn’t get to hop in her comfy BMW, she had to walk or use the donkey.  I would’a griped about traveling in my comfy Honda (oh, right I think I did, way back when I was in first trimester’s.  oops).  But she went.  She went to help, not to get her own comfort, but to help.  Because Elizabeth was older and was in the end (third trimester?) of her pregnancy.  We all know what that’s like too: exhausted, feeling big as a whale, swollen, uncomfortable, maybe a tad irritable, just…done.  So, Mary went to help.  And they embraced when they met, like friends/family who miss each other do.  And Elizabeth blurted out “Who am I that the mother of my Lord comes to me?”  She didn’t say, “Mary! Wow, what a surprise, what are you doing here?” and start fretting about if she had enough kefir or whatever to add to lunch or if the house was clean.  No, she instantly felt the baby flip around and she had those words out, I suspect, before she even really understood them, fully.  That’s how it works, I think. It’s all grace.  This feast is all about the grace and we see it in that painting, up there, one of my favorites.

Our friendships, the support we women give each other is unlike anything else.  And it is all grace. It really is, when it’s good.  We can  undermine each other like nobody’s business if we choose.  But when we choose to give, it’s like nothing else….except, like Mary..and Elizabeth.  And that, just that, is why I love this feast day.  It’s a feast about connections and grace and giving.  It’s a girl feast.  Because we rock and we do this better than anyone; when we open ourselves to this grace. Mary and Elizabeth did, so long ago.  They show us the way, even now.

>May. Month to pray.

>And now it is May!

It is a month to pray the rosary; to start if you haven’t ever done it and wondered about it. 
To learn a bit more about it if you don’t understand it (no it’s not deifying Mary, it’s asking for prayers). It’s a month of springtime and beauty, and I have found such comfort and grace in this prayer of contemplation.
This video above is from last year and is about praying for our dedicated priests.  Most of the priests in this world are good holy men, who give their lives in service and prayer, for us.  They can certainly use some of our prayers, right back.
Think about it.
It’s easier than it looks and it’s May!
All the hip folks are doing it!
Happy May!

>Oh, Mercy Me


Divine Mercy

Painting, “Divine Mercy” Michael O’Brian
It is Divine Mercy Sunday.
I don’t know about you, but I need all the mercy I can get.  
For quite some time, I didn’t pay much attention to this devotion.  It seemed goofy, in a way. Sorry, but it did. I sometimes shy away from things that I haven’t fully looked into and/or fully understand. And also, frankly, the more sentimentalized  traditional imagery and ever more sentimentalized editions of this devotion didn’t set well with me, or my oddball aesthetic.  I know, shallow perhaps, but there it is.  My reality.
Anyhow, but as I learn more about this devotion, I am learning about the simple beauty of it.  And I think it is what we all crave.  Mercy.  Just that.  Just a little mercy. 
To that end, the Church recognized today,  the first Sunday after Easter, as Divine Mercy Sunday.  Because Easter is ALL about Mercy, Divine Mercy.  If it is not about mercy, really, there is no real reason to even get out of bed.  But it is.  I know it, heart and soul. 
So today, I join in the prayer:
“….for the sake of His sorrowful passion, 
Have Mercy on us, and on the whole world.”
Happy Easter…still easter….yay…..
**reposted from last year, because this says it for me**

>Setting Fire


Today is the feast day of another of my favorite saints, more so now than ever: St. Catherine of Siena.
Siena also happens to be one of my top two favorite towns in Italy, I loved it there!
So much to say about this saint, but this quote from this amazing holy faithful pushy humble strong woman, Doctor of the Church, really sums it up:

“If you are who God made you to be, you will set the whole world on fire!”
-St. Catherine

>The Silence of Holy Saturday

Be still.
I know…it’s that day.
It’s the day of the tomb.
Silent as a tomb….

Holy Saturday is a day of silence.

It is the tomb.
It is the day of grieving and being still, quiet for it…or mindful of it and trying to find that still silent spot inside; ever difficult in our modern days and my busy loud life.
This is the day when the tabernacles, across the world, are barren.
And the emptiness is visceral.
I feel it.
I think the world feels it.
I do.

Tonight is the vigil and the promise of the return of the light, Light itself.
But for today. 
It is the deposition, the tomb.

And the noise, it’s a racket.  
My kids and the calling across the house a jangle of sound.
But even my kids, loud always, anticipating the joy and sugar of Easter tomorrow…they see the solemnity of this day, a little tiny bit.
The prayers are solemn, the see it, feel it, hear it as we pray through this day.
I crave to carve out some quieting time this day.  
I crave to go sit in adoration, but the tabernacle – it’s empty. 
I feel the loss and out of sorts, even as I prep for tonight and tomorrow.  
It’s so often a cranky fussy day, because exactly this out of alignment, the soul knows this marking and reacts with a squeezed ache.  
It is noisy in this silence, the noise of my children yes but the noise of my heart beating, looking for Him and thinking of her weeping this day.

It is a clanging silence….
So.  We wait.

>How Can this Day be Good?


Detail of painting, Tissot

Good Friday.
High Holy Day.
The Passion of Christ.
Via Dolorosa.
Utter sorrow.
Veneration of the Cross.
Empty tabernacles.
Hungry, tired, hard, sad.

Really, horror.

Nikolaï Gay (1831-1894)

An unspeakable, truly, tough day.
Good, yes, but the hardest most unspeakable kind of good.

A mystery of good.

Painting by Tissot, “What Christ saw from the Cross”

But yes, glorious good; if unseen as such then, and sometimes now.
We wait.
*Reposted from several years ago*

>A Different Night


“Why is this night different from any other night?”

It is Holy Thursday.
The first day of the Triduum.
It’s also known as Maundy Thursday
But, no matter the term used, it’s a high holy day, and it’s one of the ones that is rich and complex and beautiful and difficult all at the same time.

(And, as an aside, everyone I know is kind of suffering all sorts of larger and smaller slings and arrows this week, escalating today.  Right.  Exactly. I guess that’s how we know it’s Holy Week and we get to participate in our own mini-wimpy-passion….because “we can’t handle the truth” {to paraphrase Jack} of the real experience.  Just saying…..)

Sadao Watanabe print

Tonight the Mass remembers that special Passover supper, the last supper.  This is the supper of the institution of the Eucharist.  The disciples didn’t even really realize what was going on…how typical, then, and now.  But, oh the beauty of it all.

So too, this night, Christ washed their feet, showing them how to be the servant of servants that they would be called to be…that we are called to be.  How often do I forget that one? Daily, how many times a day is the better question.

Sigh.  This is such a complex layered night.  I can’t begin to do it justice.  The emotions range all over the map: from the quiet humbling of the washing of the feet, to the beauty of the institution of the eucharist, to the stripping of the altar and processing out that brings me to blinking away the tears…..It’s a rigorous beautiful piercing night. For me, this night does begin the vigil…the vigil that doesn’t end until the close of Saturday night’s vigil Mass (finishing Sunday) 

“Why is this night different from any other night?”  
This is one of the Passover questions.  So too, it is our question, mine.
And these three days ahead, I get to ponder it and pray over it and grow my heart bigger to answer it well, or try.

There is also a long tradition of a late Holy Thursday night service, called Tenebrea that means, literally, “shadows” or “darkness.”  This service is one of the hardest and most beautiful.  It starts in light and over the course of the service moves to darkness….because these are the three days of darkness and the greatest of suffering.  It ends with a cacophony of clapping wood.  It jangles and disturbs me deep inside, as it should, as it’s meant to.  The Sisters of Carmel explain it well, go read the whole thing here, but below is a snip from it:
There is placed in the sanctuary, near the altar, a large triangular candlestick holding fifteen candles. At the end of each psalm or canticle, one of these fifteen candles is extinguished, but the one which is placed at the top of the triangle is left lighted. During the singing of the Benedictus (the Canticle of Zachary at the end of Lauds), six other candles on the altar are also put out. Then the master of ceremonies takes the lighted candle from the triangle and holds it upon the altar while the choir repeats the antiphon after the canticle, after which she hides it behind the altar during the recitation of the Christus antiphon and final prayer. As soon as this prayer is finished, a noise is made with the seats of the stalls in the choir, which continues until the candle is brought from behind the altar, and shows, by its light, that the Office of Tenebrae is over.

Wishing you a mindful and Blessed Triduum.

>The Palms

>Waking up today….this was rolling through my head.

Not exactly the Basilica where Buddybug and Booboo are this morning…But still, apropos of the day I suppose.

Notre Dame Basilica, ah, bliss.

 I would just like to point out that, yes, I am quite well aware of how this opening video dates me and reaffirms just how old I am.  Additionally, I would like to point out that this is one of the unspoken curses of growing up in the 70’s (For the most part). This was formative stuff for me.  I know! It’s a wonder I came back to the church at all, no? But, thanks be to God, I did and now I get to live with some scars: a wedding anniversary during lent (doh) and this song/video rolling through my mind as an earworm every single year on Palm Sunday.

But still, apropos of the day I suppose.
Today is one of the longest Masses of the year, and it’s one of the hard ones. Sure it seems like it’s all the rejoicing like in the video above…but no we also have to read the long reading of when it all turns and Christ is taken to Pilate, and in the liturgy we respond, “Crucify him!” again and again.
I HATE that.
It makes me cringe.
It hurts and makes me wince.
I often want to stand silent, thinking, “No. I won’t. I can’t say that.”
But of course, I do, darn near every day in my selfish thoughtless words and snapping temper.
So, sure I could stand there and be silent today…..but oh, what a hypocrite.
And since I’m already that already too…..I will quietly, achingly whisper, “Crucify him” and try not to cry.

For more, ever so much better stuff on Palm Sunday, go here and here and, always, go here. anytime!

** Note: Palm Sunday Mass with toddlers means you don’t actually hear all the readings because you are juggling small boys who are playing swords with the palms that are given out. Long Mass, somber readings (Mark 14:1-15: 47), (Psalm 22), crowded pews, and toys, erk, palms…equals chaotic Mass!**

>C’mon Rain


Georgia O’Keefe, Horses Skull on Blue, 1030

It’s lent.  The last full week of lent, actually.
Maybe that’s why its so hard.
Its quiet.
  Slow.  Heavy.  Parched.
  These last days.
They are a dust of indigo.
A hollow…. of what?
A mere funk?
Something more?
Maybe, but not what we might think.
Not permanent or medical.
I think it is a hollow.

I am fallow.

I am, viscerally, waiting.
And my body and soul senses it; even before my intellect can process and analyze it.
I turn in when the quiet comes to the house.
And its good, that, but its hard. It brings unbidden sadness and constriction.
The gifts of busy with my clanging days offset this, and force me to see this flip side of the hard fallow time now.
The call to put that hollow hard into service, to serve, to draw myself bodily out of my head and heart by tangibly touching serving setting out to others.
My children call me back out; my husband looks over the car at me, with squinting eyes, gauging it all.
He calls me during the quiet of the day.
I tell him it is just this time, this fallow hardness of lent.
It is here and I feel it.
And I don’t want to, not really.
But I think I must and really, maybe I do want that still indigo dust.
Because its the desert.
Its dry.
I thirst.
So does He.
Ah, now I get it; I understand a glimmer bit more.
Its dry. Hard.
Desert fallow,
an open mouth waiting for the life giving rain.
Easter – around the corner.
The smell of drops on the air, days off, faint. 
C’mon rain.

Louisa McElwain, Desert Rain God, Oil on Canvas, 54″ x 72 “



 Painting by John Collier.

 Announcing: Putting out a message: Annunciation: Hey there, listen up….

See, it’s all the same thing, essentially.
Today is the Solemnity of the Annunciation.
Now you all know that this feast just resonates with me.  For me.
I wrote about some of the obvious reasons, here, last year.  
{I’m working a little bit from last year here as well….adding my current thoughts to the ones that still hold.}
Really, I could and probably should, meditate on this feast, these images for a long time, oh…for the rest of my days.  Maybe I’d be a better person.  Surely, I’d be a better mom. Surely my faith would grow.

Because this feast is all about the letting go. 
It’s about the letting go, in blind faith…the kind of faith I can only dream of, reach toward, and pray for a glimmer.
That kind of faith, that kind of willingness to “let go” and accept challenging-don’t-know-the-road-ahead-but-I’ll-keep-on-and-do-my-best-without-whining-endlessly-and-relentlessly-nagging-questioning sort of faith just astounds me.  

Humbles me.  
Blows my mind.  Still.  Ever. 

But she did. 
Mary was a girl, a mere girl.  Not old, with decades of life to measure the probability of it turning out ok in the end, or to compare to another girl she heard of in the same spot.  She had no measuring stick but faith.  And she was able to hold her breath, think about it for a moment (Because she was not programmed like a robot, she could have said ‘no,’….Indeed, we are taught that all of creation held it’s breath.)…and say, “fiat.”
I’ll do it.  “Thy will be done, not mine.”

 Painting by Henry Tanner.

Ok, right there, there it is again.  That hard stone to trip over; the one that lands me flat on my face, every time.  “Your will be done, not mine.” “Your will.”  “I’ll go with it.”
Simple, right?
Seems so.
Should be.
But no.  Oh my, no. Not at all.

And she was surely scared, and unsure, and didn’t understand, and thought it’s impossible, c’mon.  But, somehow, her heart of hearts, her very soul twinged and twanged and she knew.  She KNEW, that this was the real deal – the realest deal.  And so she bowed her head.  She said “ok.” “Yes.” Maybe one of the most beautiful words in language, top ranks for sure:

And so, ever still, I look to her as an example of  how to do it right.
I look to her for inspiration that it can really be ok even when it seems impossible and  you just don’t know how to move ahead and you’re stepping into the dark without a light to read this new map you’ve been given.

 One of our referral pics, he was so small!

I look to this feast as a reminder and connection to my own Gabriel, my Gabriel Tariku… and how scary that was and how amazing that unknown can be.

I look to this feast, that fiat, and remember that we all get the chance, again and again, to say “Fiat.”

I see another young girl who has done that, again and again.
And who does so, every day as she navigates a new huge world, full of wonders and hard confusing things both, struggles to learn and adapt and grieve and heal and grow and reclaim joy all at the same time.
And I know she says “fiat.”
I think she whispers it, but oh, I know she does say it, again and again.
And she is a little mini annunciation for me, every day.
Will I carry her? Will I love her? Will I teach her? Will I let her teach me?
I know she says “Fiat.”
And so, so do I.  

I watch my son as he works through big decisions and changes.
He desires to say “fiat,” indeed,  he is saying so but it is so big that it takes prayer and a heart ready to be cracked open to the unknown.

He will navigate a whole new world and yet one that is already so much home to him, perhaps.
And so on this special feast day, I whisper ever more prayers for him as well.
This process, his process and his changes, bring about my own, new and daily fiat too.  Stupidly so, as this one is not mine to whisper and yet, it is.   Because if I do so too, then it helps him in whatever way he is to go.  To know that I am giving him to his yes too, no holding back.

This”fiat stuff”…it’s a big blind breathtaking step.  Every time.
And THAT is why we celebrate it with a big feast.
Because it’s a celebration of faith and love.
And deep breaths: fear into faith into joy. 
Every time.

Happy Feast of the Annunciation!

Hail Mary, full of grace
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women
and blessed
is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, mother of God
Pray for us sinners
Now and at the hour of our death. Amen

>No Wiping!


Today is all about this, it’s Ash Wednesday.
The saying, “Vanitas, all is vanitas, ” is the theme of the day on so many levels.
As the priest smudges the ashes (Last year’s blessed palms from Palm Sunday) on your forehead, he says “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
So, if that doesn’t get ya thinking about your mortality, I don’t know what will.
It’s a somber Mass.
A somber day, of fasting and penance.
It’s supposed to be.
Because today marks the start of lent, a penitential season, where we work to strip away the things that hinder us from walking closer to God.  We are given six weeks, forty days, to try and try again, to detach from things that hook us in and keep us looking at ourselves: our vanities.

It’s the ultimate vanity, that constant head swivel back to us (ok, sigh, me), our looks, our wants, our desires comforts distractions.  We/I all do it, all the time.  We are practically programed to do so, but the Church in her wisdom gives us an entire season to work on this.  No, not to try to lose those last ten pounds, or finally quit smoking, but rather to shed some of the thorny tangles that that keep us mired in the brier patch of ourselves.  Those stickery snags that keep us from walking forward a step or two into holiness or just a step or two closer to God and his perfect will for us.

It takes the whole season to even go a step or two I think, or at least, it does for me.  Because I botch it up, every year.  I’ve even learned to not set my sights too high, for the fall from afar is so discouraging that it’s then a temptation to just ditch it.  Just like those ever failed New Year’s resolutions.  (I don’t do those either, anymore). 
 **To that end, I’d like to point out that a mere TWO hours into this Lenten season I’d already stepped on a landmine and blown up: mom fail. 

Kinda made me feel like I might as well draw a hot bath, mix a lemon drop martini, grab a box of chocolate and surf facebook……and it was only seven a.m.!!
Yeah, so, I was in dire need of Mass….nothing like starting Lent on a stubbed toe and deflated humbled heart.  Perhaps, though, just precisely what I needed, doh.

But, I digress.  That was my Lenten PSA so that you all can feel more hopeful about your Lenten observances.  You’re welcome. **
But Lent is not a New Year’s resolution, except that it IS the lead up to the New Liturgical Year (starts with Easter Morning).  And it is a kind of pruning to help us spring forth into the new year in better shape, spiritually.

So, today we get to say it out loud.
Or, wear it out loud.
Wear it, all day long.
It’s a pain, really, these ashes.
As I mentioned, it’s a solemn day.  I’m hungry.  I’m terrible at fasting, I want to whine (and I tend to, no surprise to you I”m sure). 
The ashes, they itch and smudge further and further as the day goes on, often ending up sliding down my cheek a bit or onto the tip of my nose. 
All day, clerks at the store or the drive through of Starbucks will look at you twice and say, “Um, you’ve got a little something…” and wave their hands around their face and then towards yours. 
Here in the south, I get that more than other parts of the country, where the Catholic ratio is higher.  But even so, I nod and say, “I know.  Ash Wednesday.” And then,  usually they blink at me, look away, “Oh.”
It’s really really tempting to wipe them off.  Or to kind of wipe them off “by mistake” as you fix  your hair or scratch an itch.  Who wants to feel like a dork?
But it’s an act of will not to wipe, and that’s really the whole point.

Ash Wednesday is not only for Catholics, nor, of course, is lent.
It’s for any and all of us.
As hard as it is, it’s one of my favorite seasons.  Maybe that’s because I am a task oriented gal; but that is precisely what usually trips me up during this season.  
Very easy to fall into the trap of being too legalistic…which is, of course, pride.  Sigh.

I think I like it because my heart really does yearn to grow in holiness, yearns to love better and fuller and the only way I can do that, I know deep inside my soul, is to grow closer to Christ.  And Lent has me on the path – if only for a step or two.
So, I’m tiptoeing to Easter.

I’ve got my ashes on today and I’m yearning to snack…but I know that is my physical reminder of  my hunger for more in this world and in my stony heart.
They itch.
They bug me.
But I’m wearing them.
No wiping.

>Fat Tuesday!


It’s Fat Tuesday! 
Mardi Gras! 
Shrove Tuesday!
Yup, it’s the last day of Ordinary Time, the day before Ash Wednesday.  So, today is the feast, the fest, the fete…the party.  I love the folklore and history of today, the tradition of pancakes for supper – to use up the fats and dairy stuff in the house before the ascetic season of Lent.  Nowadays, that “using it up before it goes bad” isn’t a factor so much, but I love the tradition anyhow.  
I have stewed about finalizing my Lenten efforts.  This article is a good one, with a good reminder and perspective.  It’s very easy for me to give up too much of or the ‘wrong’ food items.  It’s so ingrained for me to give up some foodstuff that I feel like a cheat if I don’t somehow.  And  yet, I have food issues (Because I have arrested development and am like a 4 year old if told I can’t have something……infantile, I know.)  due to my lack of discipline, the effects of said infantile issues on my children (Yes, cranky much? And, yes, again, my failing, I realize that, thank you very much), and being diabetic my body just whacks out easily somehow it seems. 
Yeah, I think that the bulk of my Lenten consideration needs to be centered around prayer and silence.  I’m always crazy distracted in prayer, and well, I’m  never very good at silence.  
I crave it, but even when I find it, I can’t seem to get my whirling dervish of a mind to slow down and shut up.  
So, to that end, I think I need to work on that.   
Shut up and listen for pete’s sake.  Please.
For today, I once again refer you to the marvelous supersite of all things Lent: questions, resources, history, ideas: Aggie Catholics.  
**disclaimer: this post is largely from last year, because I’ve got that distracted mind and am juggling multi issues at home.  So, I’m taking a short cut. It’s allowed today, I looked it up.**
So, tomorrow: Into the Desert, Lent begins.
Laissez les bon temps rouler!

>What’s in a name?

>Or should I ask, what’s in a chair?
Who’s in a chair?
Sounds like it’s leaning towards that old “Who’s on First?” schtick, but not.  So not.

Ok, you guessed it: Peter!
Cephas, The Rock!
It’s the feast of the Chair of St. Peter.
Which isn’t really about that cool looking chair above, though it is and it isn’t….
It’s all about Matthew 16:13-20, you know:

“….Christ says, “Who do they say that I am?” “Who do you say that I am?” and “Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 
So Christ Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.

And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church,  and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
El Greco, St Peter, Monasterio di San Lorenzo

You know, that’s some powerful renaming there.  And this feast helps us remember that God himself, in Christ set up his church on earth on the Rock, on Cephas, on Peter.  But it’s not really just on the man.  Because he was a MAN, and was gonna die in the normal course of events, no? Of course, so it’s also the seat, his seat, his Chair, if you will.  Just like there can be presidents’ in succession, there are the successor to Peter, the Bishop of Rome, in succession as well.  It’s a cool system, no surprise.  
So, that’s some chair.  
And the division and strife we have now and that is our very human nature, and  has been with us for centuries, is not what it’s meant to be.  Just saying.  

Happy Feast Day of the Chair of St. Peter….to our Pope! 

>Lourdes and Moms


from Basilica of Pius X, at Lourdes,
h/t: Contemplative Haven Blog

It’s the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.
Moms, she’s our patron, as always.
Read/pray the litany prayer below and remember how she, as a mom, cares and prays for us all:

Holy Mary, pray for us. 
Holy Mother of God, pray for us. 
Mother of Christ, pray for us. 
Mother of our Saviour, pray for us. 
Our Lady of Lourdes, help of Christians, pray for us. 
Our Lady of Lourdes, source of love, pray for us. 
Our Lady of Lourdes, mother of the poor, pray for us. 
Our Lady of Lourdes, mother of the handicapped, pray for us. 
Our Lady of Lourdes, mother of orphans, pray for us. 
Our Lady of Lourdes, mother of all children, pray for us. 
Our Lady of Lourdes, mother of all nations, pray for us. 
Our Lady of Lourdes, mother of the Church, pray for us. 
Our Lady of Lourdes, friend of the lonely, pray for us. 
Our Lady of Lourdes, comforter of those who mourn, pray for us. 
Our Lady of Lourdes, shelter of the homeless, pray for us. 
Our Lady of Lourdes, guide of travelers, pray for us. 
Our Lady of Lourdes, strength of the weak, pray for us. 
Our Lady of Lourdes, refuge of sinners, pray for us. 
Our Lady of Lourdes, comforter of the suffering, pray for us. 
Our Lady of Lourdes, help of the dying, pray for us. 
Queen of Heaven, pray for us. 
Queen of peace, pray for us

Happy Feast Day, moms!



It’s the Feast of the Presentation!
Also known as Candlemas.
(Known as Candlemas because at this Mass the candles for the year would be blessed…I love the tiny details, you know).
You may now, officially, take down all your Christmas decor, and the tree.
Yup, if you’re old school, this is when you take down the tree. Imagine!
Kinda cool though, really.  If you think that they must have had different ways of doing Christmas trees, or else all those homes would have gone up in flames by now.  But again, my mind wanders…

This feast takes place forty days after the birth of Christ; it’s the feast of his presentation in the temple.
I think about this event often, not only when I pray the fourth decade of the joyous mysteries of the rosary, but lately..well, all the time.  It’s that presenting your son to God thing.  Lots to think about there.
Mary, doing the dutiful Jewish mother thing of the era, brought her sweet swaddled baby to the temple, as required, in order to present him to the temple elders.  We all know the story: the old woman, Anna, was hanging out there and she came up to see Mary and the baby.  How often has this happened to us mom’s today, an old lady wants to come up close to see your little one?  All the time!

Rembrandt, “The Prophetess Anna”

But this old woman was a prophetess, and she told of the Messiah after seeing the babe Jesus:  

“There was a prophetess too, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher… she never left the temple serving God day . night with fasting and prayer. She came up just at that moment and began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.’       Luke 2:36-38

 Also in the temple, Simeon, too, got a look at the baby, and he broke into a prayer that the Church still prays every night:

Rembrandt. Simeon with the Christ Child in the Temple. c. 1666-69.

“Lord, now you let your servant go in peace; 

your word has been fulfilled.

My own eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people:

A light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel.”

Simeon went on to tell Mary that her heart would be “pierced by a sword” after looking at the baby Jesus.
I’m pretty sure Mary’s heart ran cold right then and there and she held him tight to her chest.  I’m sure she was ready to grab Joseph and head out, maybe not, being without sin and filled with the Holy Spirit and all.  But I’m thinking her  mama-bear instinct would have still been roaring and she was ready to be done with this obligation. Or maybe that would just be me. Anyhow, all of a sudden, this regulation visit became a mini epiphany, again….and it leads us from Christmas and points us right down the barrel to Easter.  Which, if you think about it, must’a been how Mary had to live her life with this sweet son.  And it’s really how we are supposed to live ours.  Not that it’s so easy.

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) wrote beautifully about this feast.

The Christian mysteries are an indivisible whole. If we become immersed in one, we are led to all the others. Thus the way from Bethlehem leads inevitably to Golgotha, from the crib to the cross. When the blessed virgin brought the child to the temple, Simeon prophesied that her soul would be pierced by a sword, that this child was set for the fall and the resurrection of many, for a sign that would be contradicted. His prophecy announced the passion, the fight between light and darkness that already showed itself before the crib.

Happy Candlemas.  Lots to think about.

>Dumb Ox


Now there are many reasons to be fond of St. Thomas Aquinas, especially here in our little/big family.  First off, of course, there is my dearest Coffeedoc, who, as we all know, is really named Thomas.  Such a great name.

Other reasons run from loving the Dominicans, in general, and these ones, in particular, and also these… the fact that he is a patron of scholars and academics, he was underestimated and considered to be slow; dim even.  Why yes, perhaps that’s why I personally have always been extra fond of him, now that you mention it!

 Our wonderful Nashville Dominicans….love them!

Little did his contemporaries know, he was a genius.  A future Doctor of the Church; by which I mean, he is an “authorized teacher” of the Church.   You want to learn good solid doctrine? Go read up on some St. Thomas Aquinas! Anyhow, this silent genius was also made fun of, just like so many of us, he was, um, larger than the standard….and between his silence and his bulk he was often called the “Dumb Ox.”  Awwww.  That’s just mean.  And at University!  Sheesh!

Anyhow, the point being: he is a saint for us all.  If you a hyper intellectual, a struggling student, someone struggling with their excess girth, ahem, someone who is underestimated, bullied, teachers, Italians, aficionados of Italy….you name it.  In our house we will have a particular devotion to St. Thomas, asking him for prayers for our Buddybug as he ventures forth, and might well need St. Thomas as a patron after graduation.  Ok, we all do, so that settles that.

But really, almost any way you look at it, or him, St. Thomas Aquinas is a good egg, all around.  
St. Thomas Aquinas is a saint to learn a bit more about, and one much needed in our confused post modern times.  

Happy Feast Day!
St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!

>Knock me off my feet……..


 The Conversion of Saul
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni

Today is the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul.

**I’m reposting this from last year, because I’m still resistant to change and I’m still thinking hard about all this stuff. I guess that’s why this feast is on the liturgical calendar: so we will keep revisiting it.  And so, I am:**

Now, we all know St. Paul, he’s a big fish – so to speak.  No matter your denomination, he’s a ‘heavy hitter.’  But I kind of like that today we are not remembering just him, but specifically his conversion.  And really, this IS one of the really fascinating things about Paul, for me anyhow.  Maybe because I am SO resistant to change.  And Paul, he should be (if he isn’t already) the patron saint of change, of stubborn people, of opinionated strong-willed folks.  Oh gee, maybe he’s been one on MY patrons all along and I am only now figuring it out.  Doh!

But I digress.  Anyhow.  Paul’s conversion fascinates me.  It resonates with me.  Not because I’m all about persecuting innocent folks (I hope. Hush, Jon, I heard that!).  But rather, it’s because he was SO sure he was right, and filled with such pride and anger and intent about it all.  It was his mission to search out and imprison Christians-followers of Christ.  He HATED them.

And I find that really so intriguing, and so telling, and apropos of today.  Isn’t that just what is going on today? In our modern, oh-so-enlightened, world?  We all do the same darn thing.  Sometimes even to the same levels of persecution and self-righteous surety.  Even the hate.  But the point is just this: Saul/Paul (he was born Saul, of course, and renamed Paul by Christ at his conversion) didn’t KNOW.  He thought he knew it all, all about those Christians, all about what they were about.  But he was wrong.  He didn’t KNOW them.  His hatred of them was manufactured from his own pride and ignorance and misguided ideas.

Oh.  Ouch.

How often do I do that?  Too often.
How often does the world, the media, the shouting commentator, do that?  All the time.

And I think that maybe we all need to get knocked off our horse now and then.  I know I do.  And really, literally, Saul was KNOCKED off his horse (which I just love, such a great real life thing to happen, sorry Paul, but I do, love that).  Blinded by the light of Christ.  And that light, really SEEING him, and being called by name by him…it changed everything.  It was Saul’s conversion.  It converted his whole self, down to his very name.  And he let it.

He let it change him.

That’s the second part of this that I have to just sit down and contemplate, for the rest of  my life.  Every day.  And still it will boggle my mind.  Because isn’t that the hardest thing? Ok, for me, I think it is.  Change.  I struggle with it, all the time, every day just about.  I resist the big changes, drag my heels through them, or pretend I’m not resisting and steamroll through them to find the new (as close as possible to the old) normal to get back to my comfort zone.  I hate being out of my comfort zone.  Hate it.  But Paul embraced that, in a humbling yet total all-in way.  And in doing so, he changed the world. Whoa. That’s something for me to think about.

So, enough blathering.  Enjoy this feast day.  I think it’s a cool one, hip and modern in its own way.  Timeless.

Happy Feast of Conversion of St. Paul!
St. Paul, pray for us!

>Intro to the Saint of the "Devout Life"


It is the feast of St. Francis de Sales!
He is one of my favs…one of the ones I turn to when I need to get back on track, or discern, or remind myself how to pray better, more fully.  Thus, I’m reposting this from last year…he has been a favorite and a biggie for a heck of a lot longer than I’ve been blogging.  And some things don’t change, happily so.  Therefore, read on for a reminder of this super saint:

This saint, this man has been deemed one of the Doctors of the Church, meaning one who’s writings and ideas are formational; the depth and understanding of their faith and the orthodoxy of their theology is held in highest esteem.

His book, “Introduction to the Devout Life” is a classic and a challenge – to my way of life and thinking and being. It humbles me: when I read (or reread) it, I tend to hang my head and think, “dang, right, gee whiz….oh, very good, man!” (It is initially difficult to get past his literary device of addessing his writing to “Philothea” {student} but once you do, you’re good to go/read/soak it in.) I recommend it to anyone, it’s very well worth the effort.

This saint is one of my favorite writers and a gentle soul. He was known for his gentle kind ways
and his simple clear explanations. He was great friends with another saint I love, St. Jane de Chantal. He taught her to be a saint ‘where she was’, in her station in life….she didn’t have to go be a desert hermit or do heroic acts, but rather quietly live a holy life, where she was (which is of course, SO much easier said than done!).

Although he earned degrees in both law and theology, he realized he had a vocation to the priesthood and ultmately even became Bishop of Geneva. He is the patron of writers and journalists, so he is also a timely saint, in this era of crazy media and bloggers all taking up their own little mini journals…like me. This prayer below, from his Treatise on the Love of God, shows why he is so good, and why I hang my head and see, once again, just how far I have to go. sigh.

Prayer of Dedication by St. Francis de Sales

Lord, I am yours, and I must belong to no one but you. My soul is yours, and must live only by you. My will is yours, and must love only for you. I must love you as my first cause, since I am from you. I must love you as my end and rest, since I am for you. I must love you more than my own being, since my being subsists by you. I must love you more than myself, since I am all yours and all in you. Amen.

>Little Lambs…


St. Agnes by El Greco

It’s the feast of St Agnes.
She is one of the early martyrs, and one of the young ones.  One of the lambs, really.  The innocent. One of the ones who even at the young age of twelve or thirteen, could stand up for her faith.  Immediately after a Roman imperial edict against the Christians (they did that sort of thing in the 300’s), she stood up and claimed her faith as a Christian.  And then was, despite her youth, taken, tortured, and executed.  Now, I can only presume her family (nobles) tried to shield her and protect her…but then again, perhaps not.  Imperial edicts were nothing to sneeze at.  I’m sure there was much more drama involved than the various accounts lead us to believe….but the result remains.  A young, young girl was martyred for her faith.  It happens even today, it happened way back then.  Because it does, we need to mark it and remember those who stood strong, knowing the truth and standing by it…no matter what.

From evening prayer:

Almighty and everlasting God, you choose those whom the world deems powerless to put the powerful to shame: Grant us so to cherish the memory of your youthful martyr Agnes, that we may share her pure and steadfast faith in you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.