The Holy Innocents

I hate this memorial.  I know it, as a Catholic, I pray it and ponder it.

It’s a hard kind of Hallelujah, knowing that once again, and then, our hard cold world is willing to steal innocent lives….all too often with some twisted evil agenda or just plain broken minds and souls.  Then. Now.  It’s too close to us, once again, this year.

But as I pray through this hard solemn day in the feasting of the octave of Christmas, I take blind faith and cold comfort in the knowledge that these kids – all the kids from way back to these first innocent babes to the shocking ones this month – ARE INNOCENTS.  And in our faith, we are taught that they are martyrs and immediately received into the joyful comfort and bliss and understanding of their role in the unfolding of creation and our world.

So, today I weep, again, for these babies.  I don’t begin to understand. I weep for the the hard extraction of holiness from our hell on earth.  And I cry out to find the goodness in such unspeakable hard.  But I trust, I trust in the promise of my  faith, and the grace that fills the void.  And, just as with the first innocents…..we remember these.

Feast of St Stephen

It’s still Christmas!

It’s the feast of St Stephan!

by Pope John Paul II: Angelus Message: Vatican, December 31, 2003

Giorgio Vasari, Stoning of St Stephen

1. Today, in the joyful atmosphere of Christmas, we are celebrating the Feast of St Stephen, one of the first deacons of the Church. He is also known as the “Protomartyr” because he was the first disciple of Christ to pour out his blood for him. Stephen was stoned to death because of false accusations similar to those levelled at Jesus himself and, like the Master, he died forgiving those who killed him.

2. The Church calls the day of martyrdom a dies natalis (birthday). Indeed, by virtue of Christ’s death and Resurrection, the death of the martyr isa birth in Heaven. This is why it is so meaningful to celebrate the First Martyr the day after Christmas: Jesus who was born in Bethlehem gave his life for us so that we too, reborn “from on high” through faith and Baptism, might be willing to give up our own lives for love of our brothers and sisters.

Today I would especially like to remember the Christian communities that are suffering persecution and all the faithful who suffer for the faith. May the Lord give them the strength to persevere and the ability to love even those who cause their suffering.

3. May Mary, Mother and disciple of her Son Jesus, accompany all Christians on their journey, from the baptismal font to the hour of their death. May she, Queen of the Martyrs, help us too to be “martyrs”, that is, witnesses on every occasion to the love of Christ whom we contemplate in these days as a Child in the crib.

Joyous solemnity

It’s a high feast day, a solemnity. It’s the Feast of the Immaculate Conception!

It’s a very big feast and a happy great day. I’m happy for it! I love Mary and I love this feast. So, don’t forget your Blessed Mother today, she’s a gift to us all. I’m so grateful.


God gave her his help from the dawning of her days; the Most High has made his dwelling place a holy temple

Feast of St. Francis Xavier

It’s the feast of St. Francis Xavier!


O God, who through the preaching of Saint Francis Xavier
won many peoples to yourself,
grant that the hearts of the faithful
may burn with the same zeal for the faith
and that Holy Church may everywhere rejoice
in an abundance of offspring.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

A Saint for the Rest of Us…

…meaning, this is the saint of the wild, the procrastinator, the know it all in each of us…
Its the feast day of St. Augustine!

Ok, most of us know Augustine.  But just in case: this saint, from north Africa, {born in Tagaste, in Africa, in 354} is one of the biggies: a Doctor of the Church and one of the great writers throughout Church history. I like him for so many reasons, not the least of which is his connection with his mom and her devoted prayers for her son. You know, I will always have a soft spot for a mom and son….

His teachings are noted throughout Christendom for their lasting influence and, simply put, their beauty. Sure, yes, of course, their brilliance and wisdom too.  But….it’s important to remember how he started, I think.  He started on this road with a left turn – years of living a life that was wild, utterly hedonistic, and dipped into all sorts of heresy and convoluted ideas of god…..but when he returned to the Faith, he did so in a big way, using his brilliant mind to convey the beauty of Truth to generations to come.

Indeed, this is the antiphon from evening prayer tonight:
“Late have I loved you,
O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, 
late have I loved you.  
You called, you shouted and you shattered my deafness.”

Late have I loved you…“ Indeed. And perhaps, that is part of his appeal to so many, so many of us (ok, me), have really felt that, lived that. Late.  I loved you late. I missed so much, for so long. The “band width” of my life was so slim, so small, and I didn’t even know it. I was fooled by the hedonistic life (now I”m not saying wild, let me be clear…not too much so or compared to today’s standards, anyhow.  Ahem) I lived into thinking it was so wide. I was arrogant enough to think I knew it all. Only, later, later when I finally let go of my grip on that did I finally come to realize how very very limited and small it all really was.

And it was then that this saint, St. Augustine, once more, came through for me with one of his most famous prayers:

“You have made us for yourself, oh God. 
And our hearts are restless, until they rest in you.“ 

Ah. I know, I’m paraphrasing that quote, but that’s how it sticks in my head and heart. And that about sums it all up: St. Augustine, life in general, me in particular.  Late.  Too busy to stop and see, to stop and hear, to stop and love.  For the real depth of it, the real deal.  Late.  But, not never.  So, for all of you busy hectic procrastinators and or know it all’s out there (like me)….St Augustine, he’s your man.

icon written by Nancy Oliphant

Really, it’s never too late to wake up to love.  
Thank goodness!
Happy feast day!
St. Augustine, pray for us!

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!

Feast for Dominican Moms, with the FIRST one.

Today is the feast day of Blessed Jane of Aza – St Dominic’s mom!

Thanks so much to Jenna for calling it to my attention! I had forgotten that this feast was here. I had forgotten that last year my Chris (then Chris, still) had called me to wish me a happy feast day.  I had forgotten until Peter Joseph called me again this morning. {I just LOVE it that he calls me on feast days!}  We had a good chat, and we decided that she is a great patron for me and other Dominican moms, and a great grandmother of sorts for him.  Hey, it’s always nice to have another patron saint on your side!

So, for all  you Dominican moms, new or old, here she is! Blessed Jane was the FIRST Dominican Mom.  For a good write up about her, go to the best site: the Dominican Province of St Joseph site and check her out.  She was holy and prayerful, known for her compassion, and for having all three of her sons enter religious life as priests.  I’ll tell you my favorite bit about her: when she was expecting, she dreamt that she was having a puppy and it arrived with a torch in it’s mouth (hence the nickname “Gods dogs…or Godzdogz”).

 Now, I’m not all holy like she was but I dreamt I was having puppies too! Both times with my big boys…though they didn’t arrive carrying torches, probably more like snacks and skateboards.  Even so, I think it’s a connection that makes me smile.  We Dominican’s we are all about finding the laughter and joy…so, it’s apropos of today. I know I’ve got a big smile on my face this morning.

Happy Feast Day Dominican Moms!

St.  Jane of Aza, pray for us.

A Man for All Seasons….

It’s the feast of St Thomas More!

He is an awesome saint, and a fascinating person…plus he’s a patron of my dear Tom.  So, I have to mark the day, though simply.  So, go see the movie if you haven’t and read up on him.  He was a wealthy and sucessful businessman and lawyer, had a large family (biological and adopted children, gotta love it) and rather a menagerie as well.  He was the confident of his close friend the king, until the king decided the Church’s rules were restrictive to his fickle love life.  Then it all went bad, to the point of martyrdom.  St. Thomas More represents, to us, to me…, courage, conviction, perseverance, loyalty, generosity, and acceptance (of children, life situations, the truth, and the present moment) of what life brings you.  Quite a bit to emulate and to virtues to pray for as well.

Painting, St. Thomas More, by Lydia Mahan, 2011

St. Thomas More, pray for us. My Thomas, Happy Feast Day!

From a letter to his daughter, Meg, while imprisoned by  his friend, the king:

And, therefore, my own good daughter, do not let your mind be troubled over anything that shall happen to me in this world.  Nothing can come but what God wills.  And I am very sure that whatever that be, however bad it may seem it shall indeed be the best.”

Considering Joseph

Ah… Joseph.  He’s the man.  Really.  He is the model of quiet strength.  A doer.

Now, I have always been drawn closer to Mary, of course. You all know that, and I think St. Joseph would be ok with that, being a gallant spouse.  But even so, I am gathering more and more connections to Joseph as I walk through this life.   As you all know by now, my son is now a Dominican with the eastern province of St. Joseph.  His religious name is now Brother Peter Joseph.  Bricks on the head.  I am being reeled into considering Joseph.  So, in honor of this feast day I am buying myself a hard  hat with the name Joseph across the top.

But, Joseph.  What’s up with him anyhow? Many outside of the Catholic church rarely ever even think of him. Heck, many inside the Catholic church rarely ever think of  him…except for that passing “foster father of Jesus” bit.

Permit me this: it just irks me every time I hear that particular phrasing.  Maybe it’s my own chip on my own shoulder.  But, “foster” father.  Hmmm.  Sure, Joseph nurtured Jesus…if that’s what is meant by ‘foster.’  Perhaps this is a holdover term from a different era, with different connotations.  But in our modern day, it seems foster father get’s short shrift (and no disrespect to modern foster fathers, as it’s a heroic job).  Somehow, that term feels rather “less than.”  Don’t flame me now….

But, as an adoptive mom let me tell you that I don’t consider Joseph anything but Jesus’ dad – his earthly, human father.  His place was, um, irreplaceable.  Joseph was the dad in place, on earth, loving and caring and protecting and raising and teaching his son just like any dad of any era.  He was the father.  Not a stand-in or temp; he was Jesus’ father, hand picked by God to raise and love and care for his Son.  For Joseph and Mary’s son.  He was/is head of the Holy Family.  So, I guess I want to make sure that Joseph get’s his cred…he’s all humble and everything so he wouldn’t push for it.  But he did the work, his heart broke and worried and swelled with love over his family and that boy…just like any dad.  In fact he did more, because he had to take the hit and the heat (from Mary even, I’m sure) upon fleeing to Egypt for safety, for bunking down in a stable,  for obediently doing whatever it took to safely care for his wife and child.   So, I’m just saying, let’s not diminish his role, ok?  Thank you.

There is SO much to ponder when considering Joseph.  He loved even when he didn’t understand it all, he was faithful to the core and to the end.  He was humble; didn’t go around bragging on his amazing kid and trying to get the local papers or Nazarene media to scout his boy.  He was a dutiful husband and dad.  He is a model for us all in quiet steady faith and deep giving love.  I tend to, as I said, look to Mary as a role model for how to do better and stop screwing up.  But, I’ll tell ya, I look to Joseph in my heart and prayers, more and more, especially when I am fretful or worried.  I look to Joseph when I yearn for a deep steady loving hand.  I see him in my own husband and my sons.  And, I’m grateful.

 I’m grateful for dear Joseph.

Today is his feast day.  Happy feast day Buddybug, Peter Joseph!

St. Joseph, pray for us!


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! 

Madre Moretta

Or, as you may or may not know her as: St. Josephine Bakhita!

It’s her memorial today!

St Bakhita lived a life full of hardship and unspeakable horror…and yet, she had a hope that did not die.  Despite the years of torment and slavery that she endured, she still had the strength and hope and fortune to finally reach and hold the shore of safety.  And once there, she  had the courage to resist those who would rest it from  her.  Thus she ended her years as a slave, no longer in Africa, but in Italy, in the home of the Cannossian Daughters of Charity.  Here she became a sister and member of the community, and lived until her death in 1947.  She was so loved and gentle and joyful that she became known as “Madre Moretta,” the “Black Mother” (an unusual sight, I would presume, in Italy in the first half of the 20th century).

Her fortitude and her joy in her faith, her faith in love, is striking:

I am definitely loved and whatever happens to me—I am awaited by this love.  And so my life is good.”

In our  modern world and times, especially in the country of her youth, Darfur, there still remains atrocities, degradation, violence….especially for young girls.  This saint is a patron for them.  She ‘gets it,’ as no one else might.  Her ability to forgive and still love, astonishes me.  She is an example of dignity, that we can all witness, and wonder, and learn.

Each saint in the canon is unique, helping us see that we all can bring goodness and healing in this world, in our own small but big ripply way.  That’s why I love learning about them and thinking about the saints….it’s cool and fascinating, sometimes shocking, sometimes radical, sometimes gentle….but, every time, it enriches the band width of what’s on my radar and in my life.

At her canonization Pope John Paul II said this about  St. Josephine Bakhita:

We find a shining advocate of genuine emancipation. The history of her life inspires not passive acceptance but the firm resolve to work effectively to free girls and women from oppression and violence, and to return them to their dignity in the full exercise of their rights.”

They  need this saint.  We need this saint, to remind us of inherent human dignity and hope and the possibility of joy.

St. Josephine Bakhita, pray for us.

No Dumb Ox There

Today is the feast of St Thomas Aquinas!

We have a special devotion to St. Thomas in our family, for a number of different reasons.  Not the least of which is this one’s special devotion to him too:

Anyhow, there is SO much to say about Aquinas. I’m sure many of you are familiar with him, him being one of the greatest Doctors of the Church and most profound theologians we have.  His writings span denominations and bridge gaps because he writes about the truth of faith, which is love.  He lived it, he embodied it.  He was taunted for his size and his quiet gentle ways: hence, the epithet, “dumb ox.”  But, oh, so not.  He was brilliant.  He was large, yes, but I like to think that perhaps he was bodily large simply to house the largesse of his faith hope and love.  His size was such, perhaps, so that our own dumb minds could maybe make the connection; that he was more than most of us, we just had to look closer, with better eyes. Perhaps not. Our bodies are our bodies, whatever they are.  But, his mind, heart, faith…well, it was bigger than any of us can fathom.  Or, than I can truly fathom.

Aquinas is the patron of students, which also means I hit him up for prayers quite often.  But, one of the things that I love about him is his humility. Despite being one of the greatest minds in the Church, ever, he held that prayer had taught him more than study.  Now, that is where I need to dwell.  Prayer.  So much of the time I turn to me,  my mind, to figure things out. I need to ever keep steady in prayer to find the same , no, better, calming reassurance.  So, today, again, I ask St Thomas Aquinas, to pray for THIS dumb ox to grow in humility and faith.  No dumb ox there.  But oh yes, here.

Happy Feast Day!

St Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!

And, now that you’ve read my quick gloss simple mom thoughts on why I love this saint, if you want to have more erudite thoughts and a much broader intellectual taste of what he’s about, watch this (from the excellent Fr Barron, and his Word on Fire series):

Gentle One

It’s the Feast of St. Francis de Sales!

Tapestry by John Nava

I love this saint, his book Introduction to the Devout Life is a classic and worth reading, oh at least once a year.  It is literally filled with such depth and goodness, yet so accessible to us, me, today that as I read it I have to stop and smack myself in the forehead, again and again.  “Doh! Of course!”  Then I have to put it down for a bit to let it all soak in.  And every time I read it I am reminded of how hard I make the easiest thing in the world: to love.

So, with that, for today, his feast day, I give you this quote (From the Breviary):

“Ah, I would rather account to God for too great gentleness than for too great severity.  Is not God all love? God the Father is the Father of mercy; God the Son is a Lamb; God the Holy Ghost is a Dove – that is, gentleness itself.  Are you wiser than God?”

Doh! Of Course! (sigh)

St Francis de Sales, pray for us!

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.


Checking it twice….stoves!

Its’ the feast of St. Nicholas!
And, as I’m working on my own elfin to do list, in the spirit of the real St Nicholas, I want to put this on the top of our Christmas list.  The real St Nicholas was known to throw small bags of gold over the walls of some of the poor in his village; not the standard help mode of the time….

A citizen of Patara had lost all his money, and had moreover to support three daughters who could not find husbands because of their poverty; so the wretched man was going to give them over to prostitution. This came to the ears of Nicholas, who thereupon took a bag of gold and, under cover of darkness threw it in at the open window of the man’s house. Here was a dowry for the eldest girl and she was soon duly married. At intervals Nicholas did the same for the second and third; at the lasttime the father was on the watch, recognized his benefactor and overwhelmed him with his gratitude

So, in light of the spirit behind that…by which I mean, doing what works to help families – because we all need it from time to time….I offer this.  This is what I want for Christmas.  I want a new stove.  I don’t want the biggest Viking house beautiful stove or cooktop. I want this stove.  Because it will be a way to make a home more beautiful, and a family do better, this Christmas.  Go, see.  Put a stove on your list!  Put ten!  This present will last longer, taste better, and bring more joy than any other gizmo that is topping the charts.  Step into the spirit of Father Christmas today…..
The Adventure Project Holiday Stove Campaign from The Adventure Project on Vimeo.
All I want for Christmas is…a stove or two or ten!”  
Think about THAT as you’re warming up your cocoa! “

ALL saints day!

Today is the Solemnity of All Saints!

All Saints Day, Wassily Kandinsky 1911

That means that today is a big, big feast day! I know, we call it a “solemnity” even though it’s one of the biggie high feast days.  You might think we’d call it the “big bash feast day” or the “fabulous feast” or something.  But, in her wisdom, the Church knows that we all love a good feast/party quite well enough and that we need to also recall the fullness of the reasons for any given feast that’s big enough to be called a solemnity.  She’s always teachin’…our Church.  But, even though the word “solemnity” makes you think we are all serious and gravely solemn, it’s not really all about that.  It’s more about the SCOPE of the feast.  It’s a way to label a feast as really big, deep, wide, broad…FULL.  So, how does all that carrying on apply to a feast of the saints?  I mean, the saints: ya da ya da…we talk about them ALL the time, right? Well, you know I do!

But today is the day we get to remember the full spectrum of the saints! Not only the rock star saints and the celebrities and the poster boy or gal saints.  Today we remember that there are a legion of saints enjoying the Beatific Vision that are not on any rosters, except the rosters of our own little families and our individual hearts or forgotten history.  Meaning, all those little folks who lived saintly holy lives, way back when and even now in our modern era…but didn’t do anything in particular to be recognized, to be noticed…well, today is their big day.

Today is the day we can look to those quiet or ‘regular’ lives of holiness and know that they count; even if they actually, at their own time, flew under that radar.  So, for the Joe’s and the Janes, the Ida’s, the Elizabeths, the Tomas’, the Abe’s, the Godada’s, the Guday’s,  Vladimir’s, Ezra’s, William’s, Belaynesh’s, Judit’s, Amelia’s, Francois’, Helen’s, Lida’s, Lavida’s, Oliver’s, Orville’s, Paulos’, Myng Joo’s, Sylvia’s, Gustav’s, Constantin’s, Violet’s….well, you get the idea.  For all those names that we can’t really know over the centuries – today is the day we recall that they too, these ones we don’t know, yet, are enjoying eternity and are part of the “communion of saints.” They too, are cheering us on in our little mundane regular lives; praying for us even.  Because they know, certainly more than the rest of us, that these little lives count….despite or perhaps because of their small quiet ripples.  So, this feast day is for the little guys.  Ok, for the bigs too.  But, that’s why it’s a solemnity – it’s for all of them, and thus, for all of us.

All Saints Day 1, Wassily Kandinsky 1911

How cool is that?

I love the communion of saints! I love the liturgical year!

{And, if you’re feeling like really marking this feast, here is the Litany of the Saints…

and for those of you who want to know more,  here is a good explanation of this prayer.}

Happy All Saints Day!

Girl talk and holiness: An advocate

It’s the feast of St. Teresa of Avila!
I love her. I claim her as one of my patron saints due to our shared tendency toward massive headaches and migraines. Only one who has them all the time can really understand how they scramble you…and she did. So, she’s my gal!

Painting by Francois Gerard, c. 17C

But more importantly, St. Teresa of Avila is just one amazing woman and saint. She is one of the three women Doctors of the Church (a distinction noting that her spiritual writings are both sound and very important, influential, indeed foundational). For a woman of medieval times, that is no small accomplishment, not to mention: staying power! Her books such as Interior Castle and The Way of Perfection are just amazing reads. Not fast page turners, but mind blowers. You have to stop every few pages and just sort of…digest it all. And then soak it in, let it sink in….it’s great great stuff and will change your prayer life. She founded the Discalced Carmelites (Meaning “shoeless,” again, what’s not to like?) and had an ongoing friendship and correspondence with the mystic and poetically powerful St. John of the Cross {And if you want a really phenomenal book, tough, dense, but OH so worth it: read the compilation/commentary on these two together: Fire Within, by Dubay}.

But on another level, not the “resume” angle…St. Teresa of Avila appeals to me because she was first of all a real living, breathing woman. I know, they all are, doh. But what I mean is that she was a woman of opinions and ideas and kind of stubborn and pushy, even when that wasn’t always overtly sanctioned in the culture of her time. She was extremely social and loved to sit and chat and flirt even…she was quite beautiful and knew how to use it too. She had to struggle against the urge to chat and flirt and gossip, and spend too much time doing it, because she could lose afternoons to it.

Sound familiar to any of you, especially you gals? Um, yeah. That stuff IS fun. Total temptation.  Sounds pretty modern to me.

St. Teresa’s monastic cell at the Convento de la Encarnación, Ávila
Kinda beautiful in it’s own stark simplicity, don’t ya think?

And yet, even so, St. Teresa could hear in her inmost self the whisper of God who loved her as she was, loved her more than anyone else could. And she responded, bravely, to that irresistible call. And it brought her the ecstasy of union with God in prayer. And that amazes me and intrigues me as I know firsthand how hard it is to push all those opinions and flippy chitchatty conversations out of my head to pay attention to God himself. She knew that frivolous conversation impeded her progress toward holiness…..and she dreaded nothing so much as delusion and the siren call of distraction from that path.  Frivolous conversation? Distraction? I’m the poster girl for it. But St. Teresa gives me hope and I have hope that she prays for me…for my attention to what is important, for responding to that call, that whisper, for my headaches, for being brave enough to listen through the din of my modern mundane life.

Sculpture by Bernini, “St. Teresa in Ecstasy”
So, happy feast day!St. Teresa of Avila, pray for us!

**Much of this was posted several years ago…I’ve been in the trenches, busy, but today I’m lifting my head up long enough to repost.  Because this gal is one of my chosen patron saints.  Thanks for understanding.

Little Big Love, Redux

It’s the feast of the Little Flower: St. Therese of Lisieux!

Which means it’s also my Marta’s feast day: Marta Therese (get the connection?).

St Therese is one of the fav’s at our house, you all know that.  I’ve written about her many times, and posted multiple novenas to her here on blog.  But whether you want to talk about her being a Doctor of the Church; known for her solid writing/teaching and doctrinal insight, or whether you want to talk about her humble “Little Way”……St Therese is about Love.

And wadda ya know…so is our Faith. So is God.  So, should be, myself.

And I kinda always thought we added “Therese” to our Marta’s name because we prayed novena’s to this saint on Marta’s behalf.  We hit St. Therese up for many prayers to bring our girl home and get her healthy.  St. Therese had TB too.  St. Therese wasn’t highly regarded among the other nuns in her convent.  She was thought to be slow or dim, she was often overlooked, she was young, she was small.

She was one of God’s “little ones.”
And so is our Marta, to be sure…one of God’s “little ones.”
If I know anything, I know that.

But really….
I am learning, every single blooming day, that I think we were compelled to add “Therese” to Marta’s name also because this saint teaches us how to love.
In the little things.
Which of course, means that they are the very biggest things.
Because this saint struggled all her life to die to her self and her pride and her desires so she could love Jesus better.

And she ultimately was given the grace of real understanding of the biggest simplest secret: that Love was waiting for her.  She didn’t have to scale great heights, or go on far missions, or accomplish amazing feats to prove her love.  All she had to do was lift up her arms(heart) and open herself to Love.  And, um, do it.  Love.  Love in the little things.  Every day.  The next thing, right in front of her.  Do the chore before her without complaint.  Smile at the irritating Sister and bite her tongue.  Not correct the error of someone being catty, but let it roll off her back.
It wasn’t easy for her, she didn’t possess any “saintly” or superhuman patience:

“I understood how easy it is to become all wrapped up in self, forgetting entirely the sublime goal of one’s calling.

Rather she figured out that:

“…perfection consists in doing God’s will, in being what he wills us to be.”


We can do no good when we seek our self.”

And yeah, it sounds so simple.  Like stupid simple, right?

Well, yup, it does.  So why do I fail and kick and fuss and gripe against it every blooming day?
Because it’s the hardest most profound thing we can do, any day, any moment.
And yet, also the most sublime and simplest.

To bring this ramble back around…and so it is with  my Marta Therese.
She too, teaches me how to love. Really.
Really love.
Because it can be so hard with her.  Because she is small and suffers the after-effects of the TB that ravaged her. Because it’s still sometimes strange and it’s still often hard and it’s sometimes ridiculously complicated. Because I am slow and am ridiculously complicated and strange. Because she has delays and it makes things very slow and often limited and sometimes strange.

But oh, I know, she is aptly named.
She is one of the small ones.
And she loves, to the best of her ability.
And I am called to love her.
And sometimes that is simply an act of will.
And sometimes it is with a tired fuss.
And sometimes it is with a stabbing intake of breath, glimpsing her for a moment as God does.
He sent me one of his special ones, to give me remedial lessons.
Because I too am slow.
And need so  much to learn to truly really love.
The little way.  
It’s so big.  

So today we celebrate, I am thinking upon, St. Therese of Lisieux, and her intentions:

 “I ask Jesus to draw me into the flames of his love, to unite me so closely to him that he live and act in me.
And I am asking her for her prayers, for our Marti Therese, my family,  and for me.

So that I can lift up my arms and  heart, and love better, more truly, all those littles ones given to me…..eight of them.

See, remedial lessons, lifelong….me.
And so I can say, “Thank you, here I am Love, lift me up.”

**Disclaimer: I posted this last  year.  It remains true and I feel the same, today. Hence, it’s busy, I am reposting.**

St Vincent de Paul: for the orphans…..

..and the widows and the poor. This saint had the big heart.  The heart that, maybe, darn near broke from compassion.  The heart that put compassion first foremost and above all.  So, for all you adoptive families and mission going gals out there – he’s your man.  Heck, for all you guilt ridden, distracted, interrupted moms out there (ok, me…), he’s a great saint to consider hitting up for prayer.  He gets it. And, it’s his feast day today!

I also gotta wonder if he wasn’t one with a sense of humor, another joyful saint.  I mean, look at that face. All the paintings and images I’ve ever seen of him show that smile and a little spark in his eyes.  Love that.  But, I digress.

Anyhow, he’s French, from the late 1500’s.  No easy time that.  But, enough, to distill what he was about, I can do no better than to excerpt one of his letters (from this morning’s Office of Readings):

“It is our duty to prefer the service of the poor to everything else and to offer such service as quickly as possible.  If a needy person requires medicine or other help during prayer time, do whatever has to be done with peace of mind.  Offer the deed to God as your prayer.  Do not become upset or feel guilty because you interrupted your prayer to serve the poor. God is not neglected if you leave him for such service. One of god’s works is merely interrupted so that another can be carried out.  So when you leave prayer to serve some poor person, remember that this very service is performed for God. Charity is certainly greater than any rule.”  {From St. Vincent de Paul’s epistle 2546: Correspondance, entretiens, documents, Paris 1922-25, 7} 

Now, c’mon moms, does that not describe your every waking moment days in a nutshell? I think so!  It does mine.  What? I’m not surrounded by the poor? Well, not in the common sense of the term, no.  However, the poor are the little among us too.  They are the ones who need help, the ones who have no voice or a very tiny small one, the ones who might get overlooked. The poor get dismissed, either because they are the classic newspaper image of poor, impoverished and not just outside our door; or because they are children, our children even, and we forget their needs are so mighty as well.  So,  yeah, they count too.  Overwhelming? Poor ALL around us?? Well, yeah.  But, happily, we get props for trying to connect and make a difference, one glass of juice at a time, one band-aid at a time, one ear to listen, to serve, at a time.  I believe it.  The trick for me is remembering to DO it.  Again.  And again.  And again…well, you get the idea.

St. Vincent de Paul, pray for us!

Wordless Wednesday; feast day edition

St. Bartholomew, by Johannes van Bronchorst, 1652

Almighty God, strengthen us in that faith

  with which Saint Bartholomew gave himself wholeheartedly to Christ your Son”

from the Divine Office

St. Bartholomew, on your feast day, pray for us!

>How to love much

>One of the great examples we have of how to love much is St. Mary Magdalene.
Yup, that’s right, this woman, reviled as an adulteress and worse, shunned even in Jesus’ time, loved with all she  had.
Wish I could say the same.

She was a beauty, and she knew it and used it…but when she met Jesus, she recognized the Christ.  She came to him, weeping, and washed his feet with her long gorgeous hair.  And what did Jesus say to her? He said, “Her sins are forgiven because she has loved  much.” Whoa.  Loved much.  Meaning, loved Him much.  Because only in loving him can we even begin to love anyone else.  If we don’t love him first, we will only love ourselves and then we can’t love anyone at all.  But she saw him and her heart new, knew she was called right back to him, him who made her.  And she came to him and wept, abject at the hurt she knew she had caused him by her separation.  And he forgave her, he took her love right back.

How much hope does that give rotten ol’ selfish me?
Well…a lot.

St Mary Magdalene went on to be one of the ones left at his crucifixion, one of the ones who stayed with his mom Mary.  She was faithful, her love didn’t fail.  She was the one to see him first at the tomb; imagine her amazed joy after such grief and hurt.  But this is the key, once she knew him – her love didn’t fail.

Wow.  Her love didn’t fail.
She didn’t go back to loving her beautiful self.
She ignored the certain gossip and whispering about her and her reputation and focused on the truth of real love that she had found.
She didn’t say, “Now what about me?”
She did the next thing: loved him.
And then she did the next thing: loved him.
And then the next:… him.
See the pattern?
Me too.
And still I stumble and go back to loving me first, not him and thus not others.  Not enough.
So today, I rejoice for the example of St Mary Magdalene, one of the most hopeful of our saints.  And I ask for  her prayers, to help me love him (and thus others) better, truer, and more.

St. Mary Magdalene, pray for us!

>Saint for Darfur


Today is the Feast of St. Josephine Bakhita.
She was born in Darfur, Sudan and surely still offers prayers on behalf of her hurting homeland.
Here is the back of her prayer card, a short bio:


“I have given everything to my Master: He will take care of me… The best thing for us is not what we consider best, but what the Lord wants of us!”

St. Josephine Bakhita, 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.

>Mystic John

>It’s the feast of one of the great poets and  mystics and teachers in the Church: St. John of the Cross. 

Salvadore Dali, “Christ of St. John of the Cross”
{Dali…when he’s weird, he’s very very weird, but when he’s good, he’s gripping.}

He wasn’t a wild eyed dark compelling figure, as you or I might imagine.  By accounts he was rather plain to look at.  I love it how  you just never know….can’t tell what’s going on by looking at the outside. So easy to forget, that.  Anyhow, inside he was on fire with love and was able to understand the beauty of the “dark night of the soul.”   It is for this that he is known…and by myself at least, often approached with a little fear and trembling to take in and on his words.  Which is silly in it’s own way.  But his ‘rep’ precedes him.  I mean, no one wants to be in the “dark night,” do they? Of course not! Not me, either.  

John knows of that tough spot, desolation, suffering, difficulty in prayer, and yet, he knows it’s bounty as well and the beauty that can be found even in that.  He writes beautifully of the call to die to one’s self.  No small feat that, but in that, in bearing life’s crosses, we become more truly us and therefore closer to God.  

He also wrote that “Silence is God’s first language.”  Which of course is probably why I yammer on and on at God in my prayers instead of listening as I need to.  Oy. See, so much for me to learn! That’s one of the reasons I like St. John too, he is a teacher. 
But his works and writings are so much more than that…ultimately they are of love, the truest deepest love and how we can find it.  
See, it gets more compelling by the minute.  
My favorite quote of his is this;

“Where there is no love, put love — and you will find love.” 

St. John of the Cross, pray for us!

Icon by Lynne Taggart

Collect of the Day: John of the Cross, 1591

O God, by whose grace your servant John of the Cross, kindled with the flame of your love, became a burning and a shining light in your Church:

Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and walk before you as children of light; 

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

>World Traveler: Frankie X


Well, that’s what he might be called in this day and age, by the hip wannabe’s anyhow. 

But you know who I”m talking about: St. Francis Xavier!
It’s the feast of St. Francis Xavier.
Here was a man ahead of his time….he studied at University in Paris, with Saint Ignatius, no less.  Then he was sent around the world, into the far east, as a missionary – in an era where travel was no small feat.  Not with the jumbo jets and security scans of today, but instead boats and bleary days at sea in far and uncharted waters.  Now, this was a man of faith, perseverance and courage! He was willing to go wherever that faith sent him, which is something I struggle with every day.  I mean, I can be unwilling to go and clean one more bedroom….here in  my own  house! St. Francis – he went around the world!  Sigh.

 From Universalis:

He was born in the Basque country of Spain in 1506. He met Ignatius Loyola when he was a student in Paris, and he was ordained priest in 1537. In 1541 the Pope sent him as part of a mission to India, and he spent the rest of his life in the East, preaching the Gospel in Goa and Malacca. He made many converts and fought against the exploitation of the native population by the Europeans. He spent two years on a successful mission to Japan, laying the foundations of many Christian communities; and in 1552, after entering China secretly to preach the Gospel there, he died of fever and exhaustion on the Chinese island of Shangchwan.

Oh God, I love thee, I love thee..

…Not for heaven’s sake;
not to be out of hell by loving thee;
Not for any gains I see;
But just the way that thou didst me
I do love and I will love thee:
What must I love thee, Lord, for then?
For being my king and God. Amen.”

 A Prayer of St. Francis Xavier….

St. Francis, as we prepare this Advent, pray for us!

>Feast of St. Andrew!


El Greco. 1606.

It’s the feast of St. Andrew!

You know, ya don’t hear quite as much about St. Andrew as the other apostles.  But really, that is hardly fair.  I mean, he was the first.  The FIRST apostle! When Christ was walking by the sea of Galilee, he saw two fishermen, Simon and Andrew.  They were of course, fishing, being fishermen.  Christ called to them, “Come with me and I will make  you fishers of men.” And Andrew, then and there, dropped everything and did. He followed Christ.  No  hemming and hawing and “what do you mean?” or “just let me go take care of this”…he just knew.  {Matthew 4:18-22} And so he did.  THEN he brought his brother back again, Simon, who Christ renamed Peter (but that’s a whole ‘nother post, eh?).  But yeah, THAT Peter, the St. Peter, rock of the church, pearly gates, the whole shebang.  Poor Andrew gets kinda short shrift eh?  I think so.  But he shouldn’t.  Would that I had that kind of instant unquestioning sure faith.  

So, today I wish the Andrew’s I know, a happy feast day.   You have an awesome patron.  And I pray to St. Andrew that he prays for my faith to increase, and my actions accordingly, just like him.  

St. Andrew, pray for us!

>For all the Saints


Today is All Saints Day!

Another name is All Hallows Day. It follows, of course, All Hallows Eve…or, obviously, Halloween. I love that we don’t just celebrate Halloween, the single day, and its not just a creepy horror fest or excuse to dress up and scarf down way too much sugar (Baby Ruth’s, Reeses, pie, oh my!) But that in actuality these are three days of remembrance.

Remembrance of what?
No, not only that you need to stay on your blood sugar meds or that there’s always tomorrow for a new diet.
Rather, its remembrance of the dead.

Its why I think the Dia de los Muertos is cool too, not creepy. Plus of course there is usually lots of food involved, especially Pan de los Muertos (Special bread), and whats not to like about that?

Its why those Dutch Veritas paintings were all the rage way back when (Ok, ok, 16 & 17 C). They were a way of reminding us that “all is vanity” in life (You know, Eccliastes and all); this life here is but a blink.

It’s remembering our dear ones who went before us, and also those who were not so dear personally perhaps, but now can be so very dear as they listen to our prayers and pray on our behalf.

Yup, I’m talking about the Saints!
We love them!

And for those who have concerns with praying to saints, I understand. But, well, here is a bit on the concept of communion of the saints. But for me, I think its one of the most cool and natural concepts of the faith and well, life in general. Because this tells us that we are connected. You all know how much I rely on those connections!

And to be connected to those who have gone before us, and who, since they no longer are bound by their human tendencies toward sin, are pure of heart and intent…to be connected to these special souls and be able to hit them up for prayers? Well, that is just too cool and a huge comfort for me.

Its a lot like asking your best girlfriend or Aunt Midge to pray for you, but knowing that the prayers will be less distracted and without any overlying layers of selfishness. For instance, “Please let Coffeemom figure this out so she will stop droning on about this, it’s making me nuts.” See, thats one kind of prayer that any earthly person might (ok, surely does) pray if I ask them to pray for me.

But we know that the saints will pray for God’s will for us, more along the lines of “O God, come to her assistance, send the graces she needs to understand your will and thus also take pity and have mercy on her best friend.” See? Much better, don’t ya think? Me too.

So, today is the day that we try to recover from All Hallows eve and the food feasting and instead feast on the deep contentment and uber coolness of knowing that the saints, both the “rock star” saints and the little known ones, will pray for us and care about our little human lives.

They’ve been there, done that, know the traps and are cheering us on our way. What’s not to like? Or celebrate? I’ll take every bit of help I can get. And, blessedly, this is real help, right now….and forever. Ah….

Photo by Richard Flynn. Saints in the cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles: Cecilia, Stephen, Casimir, Ignatius of Loyola, Frances of Rome, Bernardine of Siena, Thomas Aquinas, Katharine Drexel, John of God, Maximilian Kolbe, John Baptist de la Salle, Paul Chong Hasang, Moses the Ethiopian, Kateri Tekakwitha, Thomas More, Nicholas, Dominic, Mary Magdalen, Ann, and Joseph.

Happy All Saints Day!
I’m gonna go dig through the candy..I can’t help it, don’t judge me!

**Reposted, mostly, from last  year because I like this one on the saints, and I am crazed with busy so can’t make my thoughts any more clear today.  **



It’s the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi!

Now St. Francis is, arguably, one of the most popular saints (no matter your denomination or even if you have any belief system at all) of all time. Period. He is, if you will, a rock star of saints. Which, yes I know, is oppositional to all that sainthood is about, but there you have it. He is. He is known and loved around the world.

NOTE: Now I have been to Assisi myself and I have a much greater love for Francis…and frankly the Basilica of Assisi, specifically the lower church/crypt…blew me away.  I gasped at the beauty.  There was fresco everywhere, every single arch and nook and surface.  And I love me some fresco so I was just jaw dropped head back gasping in happy.  
Great great stuff.    So, much of this post is a repost about my prior feeelings about St. Francis, but now, well, know I feel like I know him a little bit better.  I’ve been to his house.  Seen his robes, prayed at his tomb.  Been to Mass, right there with him. It brings you close.  He’s kinda like extended family now…

My issue, and one that kind of has kept me from getting too close to St. Francis, is that he is too often sentimentalized into a sort of “saint-lite.” It seems like only the fluttery bird loving Francis is ever depicted. Churchs all over love to do the blessing of the animals in honor of St. Francis. Well, ok. I like animals too and we all know he loved them and talked to them and that’s very cool.

But really, St. Francis was a radical! He came from a very wealthy family and after living the wild life for years, to the despair of his folks, he had a radical conversion and threw it all away, literally (stripping to the skin in the public square and renouncing his inheritance…not the way I’d encourage youth to model today, but still….). He then went to devote himself to poverty and prayer and building up the Church, literally and figuratively, in joy. Even by the standards of the day, way back when, he was a holy radical. That’s the St. Francis that I like to think about, the one that draws me in and wonder, but is too often unrecognized.

Painting by Murillo, “St. Francis at Prayer”
My favorite thing about St. Francis, really, are these guys!! Also radicals for Joy, totally countercultural…… They are awesome and just light up a room when they are around. I tend to want to follow them around like a puppy. They are magnetic in their joy and just pull you to them!

Fransiscan Friars of the Renewal on tour of Ireland.

So, happy feast day!
St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us!