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Posted by on Jul 26, 2011

Novena to St. Ignatius Loyola – Reconciliation – Fifth Day – July 27 –

Novena to St. Ignatius Loyola – Reconciliation – Fifth Day – July 27 –


Thank God for His mercy and grace. If not for His grace and mercy, I would have been so lost in drugs and alcohol and misery. He sent His son to die for each of us. What I have now is peace that passes all understanding, and His Spirit that lives in me to give me actual joy in life. finally joy and peace that I thought was in pain killers and booze. That wasn’t joy, that was being numb. Not now! Not anymore! Thank God for His grace. – blog comment on “Your Grace Is Enough for Me” by stormyweather


This testimony is a beautiful example of true reconciliation. It involves a transformative healing and could have come right out of the pages of the Gospel – The Good News.

Confession, or the Sacrament of Reconciliation, is high on St. Ignatius’ list of priorities for the First Week of the Exercises. The challenge for most cradle Catholics is focusing on a long Church approved check list of sins, as opposed to focusing on the person of Christ. The things that bother us the most are obvious if we are honest with ourselves. Often we can become neurotically obsessed with our own behavior in terms of small things, without facing major issues like alcoholic parents; sexual, physical, or psychological abuse; refusing to forgive. People in lifestyles or marriages that don’t meet Church standards can feel that somehow God is not interested in them; somehow He died only for the good people.

Most of the detailed lists cover symptoms of some type of break-down in our relationship with God as codified in the Ten Commandments or the Seven Deadly Sins: pride, avarice, lust, envy, gluttony, anger, and sloth. However, this can lead to a denial of our own feelings and cause damage in other areas of our lives. If my anger is always close to the surface, it is not really helpful to keep confessing it and beating myself up over it without looking more deeply at what its cause is. My marriage can be problematic and my sex life unsatisfying. However, if I just keep focusing on the symptoms instead of these deeper issues, I am wasting time and energy and building up to something that will be very bad for everyone concerned.

Sin, guilt, and remorse can be very complicated. Returning veterans from the Middle East have not sinned when they killed people if you believe in the just war theory of morality. That doesn’t mean that they don’t carry a great burden. When they lash out in destructive ways as part of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, marriages are lost, children are harmed, suicide can follow. Going down a checklist doesn’t even begin to offer the healing we all need in these and most situations. Let us look at ourselves, our loved ones, and all others with honesty and compassion as we embrace the forgiving Christ. We are worth everything to God. Perhaps the greatest sin when we don’t see ourselves as worth saving. God does not make junk.


Examination of Conscience

Place yourself in God’s presence and know that you are with a trusted friend. Put out of your mind all thoughts of an avenging father figure or some tyrannical authority figure. You are with the God who came to dwell among us and shared all things we endure except sin. Jesus was open and frank with people who came and spoke with him. He expects no less from you. If you are upset or confused, listen for the healing voice of your Friend. Open your heart and listen.

Start with a thank you for being redeemed and saved and for protection. Ask the tough questions. Why did my child die? What do I do with my alcoholic husband? My heart is broken. Can you mend it? I tampered with evidence to get innocent people convicted. I fought for tax laws that would protect me and take food, healthcare, housing, and education from the poor. I did my best to be careful, but I killed women and children in that village. I think the Church is wrong when it says we should get rid of the death penalty.

Be open to finding out the facts. Have I brought these issues to a counselor? How do I start to change things and to make amends. What is the deeper issue here?

Talk with Jesus. Accept His forgiveness. When he says “Go in peace and sin no more,” what will I do to make that a reality? If you are glum or downcast, something is wrong. You have been pardoned. Stretch, breathe, cry for happiness. Break out in song. Jump for joy. This day salvation has come to your house.

Concluding Prayer

St. Ignatius, you signed your letters “pobre de bondad,” poor in goodness, and called yourself a pilgrim. Please pray for me to be open to what God is calling me to do to announce and build up the kingdom. Transform my petitions into questions of discernment and pray for us to remember that all of our true needs and desires are already known to God. Pray that I be taken beyond my wants, beyond my fears, from death into life.

In your writings and by your example we are reminded to pray for the Church and the Holy Father, for all who dwell in darkness and for the millions lacking food, water, and other necessities. We join our prayer with yours for true openness so that we can contemplate the Divine presence in all things and praise, reverence, and serve God Our Lord in action.Pray for us to have the courage to meet and to serve the Lord Jesus in the poor and the suffering.

Praise be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit
Now and Forever. Amen.

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Posted by on Jan 1, 2011

Novena to St. Ignatius Loyola – Reconciliation – Fifth Day – July 27 –

World Peace and Freedom of Religion

(Credit: Hiking Artist Cartoons – Used with permission)

This New Year’s post and my resolution comes from Fr. Cyprian Consiglio’s homily today at Holy Cross Church in Santa Cruz, California. Fr. Cyprian is a Camaldolese monk, musician, and student of world religions.

A liturgy with Fr. Cyprian is always a wonderful experience. His homily was based on the theme for today’s observance of World Peace Day.

Pope Benedict XVI focused on Freedom of Religion as the theme for this New Year’s Day of Peace 2011.

Religious freedom is not the exclusive patrimony of believers, but of the whole family of the earth’s peoples. It is an essential element of a constitutional state; it cannot be denied without at the same time encroaching on all fundamental rights and freedoms, since it is their synthesis and keystone. It is “the litmus test for the respect of all the other human rights”.[8] While it favours the exercise of our most specifically human faculties, it creates the necessary premises for the attainment of an integral development which concerns the whole of the person in every single dimension.

In his homily, Fr. Cyprian reflected on the number of groups which observed peace vigils New Year’s Eve and that the growing number showed, perhaps, an increase in consciousness and enlightenment. He went to some pains to point out that many of the groups from diverse traditions did not agree on everything and probably never would. However, it is only through the free exercise of religion and the building of bridges of good will that these tensions can be recognized, managed, and appreciated.

In fact Fr. Cyprian’s life as a troubadour of peace has bridged many of these divides through the dialog of contemplation and world music. (For wonderful and challenging reflections, subscribe to Fr. Cyprian’s blog.)

The unspoken lesson: Become the Peace You Want.

YouTube – CyprianConsiglio’s Channel.

For a brief but deep meditation on peace, tune into the chants Benedictus, Namo Janitre, and Awakening performed by Fr. Cyprian and Dr. John Pennington for a truly happy entry into this New Year.

Fr. Cyprian Consiglio and Dr. John Pennington

I highly recommend Fr. Cyprian’s blog and Dr. John Pennington’s website.

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Posted by on Nov 24, 2010

A Time for Gratitude as a Year Ends

As we approach the end of one liturgical year and the beginning of a new one, it’s good to stop and be grateful for the gifts we have received.  As it happens, in the United States we do just that on the 4th Thursday of November, our Thanksgiving Day.

Tomorrow, as we share meals, prayer, board games, football games, outdoor fun and indoor visiting, may we remember the wonders we have seen. The sunrises and sunsets. The sunny days and the rainy, stormy ones. The days of gentle breezes and the days of gale force winds. If we have been through great storms, may we be grateful for having come through them to safer days. If this has been a peaceful year, may we be grateful for the gift of peace and pray for strength to continue to trust the Lord when next we face challenges and hard times.

In this year, people have been born and people have moved on to the next stage of their lives with the Lord, the one we don’t yet share with them. We have seen children growing and parents aging. We hope to be growing ourselves in wisdom, age and grace – always growing in grace and graciousness, a sign of God’s presence in our lives overflowing into our dealings with other people.

We thank our readers for spending time with us here at It is truly a blessing to be a part of a worldwide community and to share hopes, dreams and visions with all of you.

This song by Mary Chapin Carpenter from “Come Darkness, Come Light: Twelve Songs of Christmas” is a reminder of the gift of community we share.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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Posted by on Nov 11, 2010

A Time for Gratitude and Caution

November 11 is the day Americans know as Veterans Day. It was originally called Armistice Day, the day the War to End all Wars simply stopped – brought to a close by the signing of the Armistice between the Allies of World War I and their German enemies. It was neither a treaty nor an unconditional surrender, but it did mark the total defeat of Germany and her allies in the war. The war stopped at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. The peace treaty that officially ended the war was not signed until January 1920, but the fighting ended November 11, 1918.

Negotiations to end the war began in late September and continued through October and into November 1918. Even after agreement on the armistice had been reached, the armies continued to fight – each hoping to be in the best possible position should the hostilities resume. A total of 2,728 men died on the last day of the war, including one German soldier killed minutes after 11 a.m. by American soldiers who did not know the war was over. He was an officer approaching them to tell them his troops would be vacating the houses in which they had been billeted. The last American who died was killed as he was charging the German line 60 seconds before the fighting was to stop.

We look at these kinds of historical facts today and shake our heads. How arbitrary it all seems. What a waste of lives.

Yet human history is replete with tales of wars, conquests, roaming warriers, warlords, robber barons, etc. Why do they do it? Why do we do it? Do we do it ourselves, at home in our own little worlds?

I’m afraid I’d have to say that Yes, we do commit similar acts ourselves within our small circles of family and friends. We may not do it physically, but our words and actions can be ruthless and cut deeply.

When I was in high school, I was part of an experimental program in which we had a “block class” that included instruction in English and Economics/US Government. One of the portions of the class included the class becoming a city. We were all citizens of this city and had to deal with issues that cities and their citizens face. That included having elections to select our leaders. We were divided into differing socio-economic groups. Certain areas of our city were prosperous and others were not. Some of the challenges involved how to provide the services needed for the health and well-being of city residents without breaking the budget.

I ran for Mayor and won. It was the last office I expect ever to try to attain. I had no idea how difficult it could be to meet the  needs of so many different people fairly. My hat is off to those folks who are willing to struggle with these issues on local, state and national levels. It’s a thankless job, despite the prestige one gets.

A few of us from the Block were selected to participate in another “game” at a local college. In this game, we were divided into two nations sharing a common border. As fate would have it, a skirmish broke out on the border. Each team/nation was given a set of information about the skirmish – what had happened, who had fired first, how many had been injured, where the troops were currently located, etc. Some were designated as the military who were engaged in defending our borders. Others were part of the political and diplomatic teams who were supposed to find common ground and get the war ended.

I was one of the persons sent to the United Nations to try to settle the issue. We had been told that the other nation had started the war. They had moved onto our territory first and we were simply defending ourselves. So I argued that they were the agressors. We were the innocent victims. They should withdraw and pay compensation for the cost of the war, etc. To my surprise, my counterpart from the other side had exactly the same argument! As the “game” drew to a close, we were informed that both sides had been given exactly the same information. The actual facts of the case would never be known by any of us. We had all been making speeches and arguing our cases based on information that had a 50-50 chance of being untrue.

I learned something from those two games played as the Vietnam War raged outside our classroom. Nothing is as clear-cut as it seems. There is always the possibility, indeed the probability, that at least part of the information on which a course of action is to be based is incorrect. Whether those providing the incorrect information are doing so knowingly or not does not change the fact that it is incorrect. The culpability for causing harm to others, of course, depends on the degree to which one is aware that the information is not true and spreads it anyway. However, it doesn’t hurt to assume as a general rule that at least some of what I “know” is not really true! If nothing else it lends a bit of humility to the equation.

That doesn’t mean that individuals should not take stands supporting basic human rights or not call a spade a spade when governments or others in positions of power are abusing their power or harming the innocent. That’s part of the call to prophetic witness within our Judeo-Christian tradition. However, we are called to do so recognizing our own complicity in the system and knowing that there is always more to any story than at first meets the eye.

On this Veterans Day, may we be filled with a sense of gratitude for the efforts and sacrifices of those who have given their lives to ensure that life would be better for those who came after them. May we thank those who went to war and returned alive for the gift of freedoms they have protected. May we be grateful to those who serve in other ways than militarily to foster human rights and protect human dignity. May we reach out to those whom we consider to be enemies and to those who consider us to be enemies, hoping to find common ground on which we can move forward in peace. And may we respect those who dissent when those around them call for aggressive action or war, recognizing that there may be realities about which we are unaware that would lead to totally different conclusions if they were known.

Most importantly, may we be peacemakers – ever willing to listen, to seek common ground, to build a sturdy foundation for the future. As sisters and brothers sharing one earth, as human beings, we can do no less and be true to our calling as children of the Most High.

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Posted by on Oct 31, 2010

Who is Zacchaeus in Our Lives Today?

The Gospel reading for today, the 31st Sunday of Ordinary time, Cycle C, is the story of the tax collector, Zacchaeus.

Zacchaeus lived in Jericho. He was despised by the people of the community because he was a tax collector. Being a tax collector in those days meant that he was free to extort as much as he could get from the people and had only to send a portion of it to the authorities at higher levels of government (ie, Jerusalem and Rome). He was the chief tax collector, taking money from all the tax collectors under his supervision and from his own work as well. The gospel notes that he was a wealthy man.

Now Zacchaeus was curious about Jesus and when he heard that Jesus would be passing through town, he went out with the crowd to see him. We do the same today when celebrities come through our own towns. However, Zacchaeus had a problem. He was a short man and there were lots of people in front of him. So he climbed a tree to get a better view.

Jesus saw him in the tree, stopped and called him by name to come down, saying that he (Jesus) would dine at the home of Zacchaeus that night. The people were horrified and scandalized. They asked if Jesus really could know who Zacchaeus was, that he was a terrible sinner? But Zacchaeus was touched by the healing love of Jesus in that moment and volunteered that he would return fourfold all that he had stolen and give half of his possessions to the poor. Jesus told all “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.” (Lk 19:1-10)

This story got me to thinking. Who is Zacchaeus in our lives today?

It’s easy to point the finger of blame at celebrities who are promiscuous or who drink too much or who use illicit drugs. It’s easy to look at politicians who misuse their power. It’s easy to say that those who provide or seek abortions are great sinners. It’s easy to scapegoat people whose sexual orientation does not match our own.  It’s easy to gloat when a minister is caught in some sin he or she has denounced from the pulpit.

But I don’t think that’s the lesson we need to draw from this account. We need to look at ourselves and see the areas in which we fail. We need to ask ourselves who we cheat, from whom do we steal, whose hearts do we break? To some extent each of us is Zacchaeus.

Then I suggest we go a step further. Who are the people in our lives whom we blame for what is wrong in society? Who are the people we would choose to block from access to the goods of life? To whom would we deny education, health care, food, clothing, shelter?

Do we blame undocumented immigrants and seek to exclude them and their children from the goods and services they need to live full, healthy lives? Do we suggest that the children of the undocumented who are born here should not be citizens by birth, thereby denying them the protection of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution? Do we look down on the laid off teacher, the unwed mother,  or the disabled worker who receive unemployment, food stamps and Medicaid? Do we insist that people who can’t afford health insurance should just not get sick and/or need preventive care services? Do we say that only the well-to-do should be able to stay home with their young children and that mothers in poorer families should have to put their children in day care for long periods of time and work at minimum wage or less trying to earn enough to cover rent, food and childcare? Do we assume that all children of minority groups are probably gang members? Do we expect that the poor are somehow less intelligent and deserve to live in poverty?

I suggest that perhaps Zacchaeus takes many forms in the United States today. Some people we treat as if they were public sinners (Zacchaeus) because they are less fortunate or have made poor decisions in their lives. Somehow we are inclined to believe that those for whom all is going well are holy and specially rewarded by God for their good lives and that the opposite is true for those in difficult circumstances. Some of us are Zacchaeus in our world because of choices we have made that hurt others.

The good news is that Jesus came to bring salvation to us all, in whatever way we may personally be Zacchaeus and to whomever we treat with scorn or exclude as if he or she were Zacchaeus.  And why does Jesus come to bring this salvation? Because “the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost” and because the Lord will “overlook people’s sins that they may repent.” (Wis 11:23)

Good news indeed. May we be open to receive that salvation ourselves and to support others whom we might otherwise push aside as unworthy of the grace and blessings of the Lord.

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Posted by on Oct 12, 2010

Remembering to be Grateful

“… One of them, realizing that he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in  a loud voic; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, ‘Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?’ Then he said to him, ‘Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.'” (Lk 17:15-19)

This story of Jesus’ healing of the ten lepers reminds us of the importance of expressing gratitude for the gifts we have received. I admit, I’m not very good at doing that as often as I should. Life gets so busy and there are so many pressing things that must be done, that days can go by and suddenly I realize that I never got that “Thank you” card sent or that phone call made. So if I owe you a thank you, please know that I have sent it many times mentally and in my prayers. I’m just not at all good at actually getting the stamp onto the envelop and the letter written to go with it.

Still, the reading is a reminder that in our relationship with God, it’s also important to express our gratitude. God doesn’t need us to say thanks, we need to say thanks. To the extent that we look at things with a spirit of gratitude, we are more able to deal with the hard times and challenges of life. None of us gets through life without experiencing them. They’re necessary if we’re to grow in wisdom and grace along with age.

One of the things I’ve learned in life is that I can choose how I will respond to the unexpected, especially the unpleasant unexpected things that happen. I can react with anger, frustration, jealousy, rage, … or I can try to smile (even through tears), laugh, forgive, wait patiently to see what good thing is coming next, etc. My immediate reaction is not necessarily going to be my final one, I’ve learned. When the negative ones jump up first, I can choose to set them aside and focus on the positive ones. It’s not easy when the really hard things happen – things like illness, injury, loss of jobs or loved ones. But at those times it’s especially important. Only by opening to the gift of God’s presence in those moments can we allow God to act freely and bring good out of them.

When I was much younger, I read a book called Praise the Lord Anyway, by Frances Gardner Hunter. The premise of the book was that God wants us to be joyful and grateful, even when we can’t see what good can possibly come of the situation in which we find ourselves. It’s good advice and even scriptural. St Paul tells us, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice.” (Phil 4:4)

As I go about my work this week, I pray that I’ll remember to be grateful and joyful as I receive God’s gifts and the challenges that life brings to me. Whatever they may be, experience tells me that God will be there to bring good out of them if I just keep my heart open to hear and be grateful. May the same true for you.

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Posted by on Jun 18, 2010

Novena to St. Ignatius Loyola – Reconciliation – Fifth Day – July 27 –

Father’s Day – 2010


"Let's play Sandwich!"

“When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability. To be alive is to be vulnerable.”
Madeleine L’Engle

I have known many fathers in my years. Each is unique. Each brings his own special gifts to his family, friends, and associates. Some fathers love to hunt and fish. Others are gardeners. Some come home and watch TV. Others get lost in a book. Some pack up their families and go traipsing around the country every chance they get. Others are content to stay in their own community, considering a picnic at the park a fine outing.

Regardless of the particulars of each man’s habits and preferences, there are some characteristics that I think are common among fathers. Probably the first is that they really had no idea what they were getting into by fathering a child. (I must say that in my experience, mothers don’t know this bit of reality in advance either!) Nevertheless, hundreds of thousands of men have willingly entered into the path of fatherhood. And then the adventure began …

Fatherhood requires a willingness to be more than the progenitor of another human being. It requires a willingness to be vulnerable and to learn as you go. Parenthood brings out the best and the worst in each of us. We learn as we go along – making mistakes, making amends when possible and doing some things right the first time (even if by accident). We find out what deep darkness can lurk within us. We also find out what depths of patience and love can be tapped, especially if we remember to call for help from the Father of us all. We delight in watching our children discover the world and their own identities. We sorrow with them when they fall and help them get back up and try again. We grieve with them when something precious ends and can’t be regained.

To a child, the father is a powerful figure. He stands so tall and is so strong. He picks us up and twirls us around and the world whirls too. He comes home happy and the household sings. He comes home frustrated and tired and the household … Well, we hope the household reaches out to reassure and comfort him. Doesn’t always happen that way, but that’s the ideal. Sometimes he gets angry. Sometimes he laughs when he feels like crying. Sometimes he picks a flower to say, “I love you.” Sometimes he just lets his child crawl all over him and pull at his chin whiskers and ears.

Fathers come in many sizes and shapes. Some are old. Some are young. Once a man becomes a father, he never stops being a father, even if his children move far away or are estranged from him.

Being a father means being vulnerable. Vulnerable to love. Vulnerable to having your heart broken. Vulnerable to losing a precious person. Vulnerable to finding precious meaning in small, everyday ordinary activities.

Vulnerability is not necessarily a bad thing. Only hearts that are open and unshielded can receive the gift of love that is pouring into the world each day, keeping all in existence.

So as we approach Father’s Day and celebrate the lives of the men in our lives who have given their lives to us in so many ways – those who have physically given us life and those who have given us faith, hope and encouragement as “father-figures” or teachers or godfathers – let us be grateful and supportive of them. They have learned and continue to learn the great secret that by opening themselves and becoming vulnerable, they receive the greatest blessings of this life – the love and wonder of sharing in the work of creation with our Father.

Thank you to all of you men who have accepted the joys and challenges of being fathers to your children and to those who have come to you in need of a father’s guidance. May the Lord’s rich blessings be always yours as you do your best to share what you’ve learned and help the next generation along on their journey as well.

Happy Fathers Day!

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Posted by on Dec 31, 2009

Novena to St. Ignatius Loyola – Reconciliation – Fifth Day – July 27 –

New Year’s Greetings and Wishes

New Year's Eve in Rio

New Year's Eve in Rio

It’s New Year’s Eve in Santa Cruz. A year has nearly ended and a new one is fast upon us. On top of that, the first decade of the new century is coming to a close. So much has happened in the past 10 years – for all of us. Some has been good. Some has been bad. Some has been just normal. That’s the way life goes.

Still, as Christians, we live with the belief and hope that God is in it all and brings good out of even the terrible times of our lives. The God who couldn’t bear to sit back in isolation from all of creation and from the human beings He created entered into our lives and history, to bring us all back into union again. It’s not up to us to become perfect and worthy of God. God became one of us and in doing so, made that re-union possible. We just have to let go of anger, jealously, hatred, fear, and all the other negative energies which we so easily hold onto and nurture. God will even help us let go of them.  It’s all a free gift!

So, at this time of a New Year and a New Decade, may the Love and Peace and Joy of God fill each of our hearts, so that no room remains for harboring the negative, life-draining spirits that lurk among us. May we look at each other and at ourselves and see the Face of God looking back at us. May we rejoice in the beauty of creation and of each person. May we trust that when the hard times come, as they certainly will, God will be with us personally, holding our hand and helping us through them. And may we move forward with confidence that we are loved and lovable, just as we are. Of course, there’s room for growth in love, patience, faithfulness, joy, and so forth, but we are each loved NOW, by our God who is absolutely crazy about us and just wants to hold us close in a huge, big hug.

What great good news that is!

Happy New Year.

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Posted by on Dec 14, 2009

An Advent Gift

An Advent Gift

Terry Hershey is one of my favorite columnists/bloggers. I look forward each week to his Sabbath Moment column. Today he offers this prayer. I suggest we all make it our own.

Our Prayer (and, Christmas gift suggestions)

Lord, in this Advent season, may we give
To our enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, our heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To our self, respect.

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Posted by on Jan 31, 2009

Novena to St. Ignatius Loyola – Reconciliation – Fifth Day – July 27 –

January Reverie



Pussy willows blossoming,

Monarchs dancing in the sky,

Sour grass and wild radish blossoms

Punctuating fields of wildly growing grass,

January on California’s Central Coast.

Praise and Thanks to Thee,

Great Lord of all Creation!

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Posted by on Nov 26, 2008

Novena to St. Ignatius Loyola – Reconciliation – Fifth Day – July 27 –

At We Give Thanks

Thanksgiving has arrived and we at find ourselves with many reasons to be grateful. It’s been about a year and a half since our blog “went live” and just over a year since our search engine began organizing trustworthy, useful information for our readers to use in their work and their own spiritual journeys. In that time, we’ve met some amazing people and discovered some truly wonderful resources.

At this time, we’d like to express our gratitude to some of the people who first supported and encouraged us in our work. These include Dr. Megan McKenna, Timothy Radcliffe, OP, Armand Nigro, SJ, Thomas McDermott, OP, Terry Hershey, Bernard Tyrrell, SJ, Bosco Peters, and Patrick Conway, M.Div. Each of these people has helped with recommendations of people to contact, books and authors who should be included, reflections on questions we have asked for blog posts, or tagging materials to add to the search engine. To each of them we are grateful.

Others have followed these initial supporters. Jesse Manibusan, Faustino Cruz, SM, Kenan Osborne, OFM, Br. Bill Short, OFM, Sr. Krista Aiken, OSC, Mother Marija, ocd, Michael Fones, OP, Sr. Barbara Long, OP, Cyprian Consiglio, OSB Cam, and many, many others have shared their thoughts, prayers and best wishes with us.

In writing blog posts about the founders of some of the religious orders and other saints of the orders, I’ve reached out to a lot of members of those orders. Many have responded and I am grateful to them for sharing their thoughts with us. Those who have responded include Dominicans, Franciscans, Jesuits, Poor Clares, Carmelites and Vincentians. In the coming year, I hope to contact others to share insights about the gifts their brothers and sisters have brought to the Church.

This entire enterprise could not have begun or moved so far forward without the support and encouragement of Rajesh Setty, Vijay Peduru and Paul D’Souza of Suggestica, Inc., owner of the RawSugar technology that powers our search engine. We are also indebted to Naveen Lakkur of and his team who work behind the scenes to design the site and keep it working. Thank you to all.

And to our readers … we thank you for taking time from your busy lives to read our thoughts in the blog posts, share your reflections with us, and use our search/discovery engine in your work, ministry and personal spiritual journeys. Without you, there would be no reason for our enterprise. Thank you.

May the Lord bless and keep you. May the Lord make his face shine upon you. May the Lord be gracious to you and grant you peace.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Posted by on Nov 25, 2008

Novena to St. Ignatius Loyola – Reconciliation – Fifth Day – July 27 –

The Last Week of the Year – From the Feast of Christ the King to Advent

Feeding the Hungry in Jesus' Name - Baton Rouge

Feeding the Hungry in Jesus' Name - Baton Rouge, LA

Last Sunday we celebrated the Feast of Christ the King. The Gospel reading was from Matthew, speaking of the judgement of the nations on the last day. The King, a.k.a. The Son of Man, invites “the righteous” to enter the kingdom saying, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.” When they ask when they gave him this service, He assures them, “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers [and sisters] of mine, you did for me.” He goes on to tell those who are not invited to enter the kingdom that when they denied this same care to the least, they denied it to Him. (Mt 25:31:46)

At this time of global economic crisis, with millions of people facing financial troubles they never expected to see, and other millions finding resources that were never enough in the first place becoming even more limited, these words ring loudly. They are a challenge to all of us – those who have just barely enough, those who still have plenty, those who have not enough at all. How do we recognize the Son of Man around us and what do we do to reach out and help?

I suggest that we look at this time as one for affirmation of hope and trust in our King. We have a King who cares so much about all of us, who loves us each so deeply, that He was willing to live among us and share in all that we experience. He was willing to challenge unjust structures and interpretations of the Law. He spoke up for God’s “little ones,” however old they were, who couldn’t speak up for themselves. He insisted that we are all created for the freedom of God, a freedom that allows us to do what is right and good for those in need, without worry about whether it is approved by those in power or authority. A freedom that lets us give of the little we have to help those with less. A freedom that can lead to the cross, but also to the joy of new life.

In the United States we celebrate Thanksgiving this week. Churches, schools, even gyms have been collecting food for weeks to share with “those less fortunate.” Many will offer dinners on Thanksgiving for those who are homeless or have no one with whom to share a meal. It is a special time when we reach out to each other in care.

The outreach will continue through Christmas. Gifts will be collected again at churches, schools, banks, and gyms for children and adults who might not receive a gift otherwise. Food baskets aren’t prepared and distributed for Christmas dinner, but collection of food for food pantries will continue throughout the year.

Then one calendar year ends and a new one begins – with hope and expectation of better times to come. It will be a time of especially high hopes in this country, as we see the beginning of a new presidency. And I wish all the best to those who will govern us. It’s not an easy job in the best of times – and these are not the best of times!

But what do we as people of faith bring to the party?

As Christians, we begin our new year at the end of this week. The first Sunday of Advent is next Sunday. A new year. New hopes. New expectations. New dreams.

Let us together move into this new year with a commitment to hope, to service, to caring for each other. Most of us will not ever have the chance or the means to effect dramatic change in this world. But remember, the little things are the ones that can be HUGE for an individual or a family. A gift of food, a gift of a smile, a gift of a kind word, a gift of hope, a gift of time for a visit. All of these affirmations of the value of the other person help ease the burden of hard economic times. Jesus wants to live in us and through us. We are to be His face, His voice, His touch to those around us. And when we reach out in service, we reach out to serve Him. When we graciously accept the loving help and kindness of people who reach out to us as well, we receive His love as well as return it to them.

As we move from the Feast of Christ the King into the new season of Advent, let it be with hope, trust and joy. Our God is with us. The Kingdom has begun. “Whatever you did for one of these … you did for me.”

(Picture from in Baton Rouge, LA.)

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Posted by on May 28, 2008

Novena to St. Ignatius Loyola – Reconciliation – Fifth Day – July 27 –

What Keeps Me From Seeing?


I like to take a walk in late morning each day. It helps clear my mind and stretch my muscles before I plunge into the work and activities of afternoon and evening. Living beside Monterey Bay, I never know what I’ll see on my outing.

Today, when I arrived at the water’s edge (actually at the cliff beside the water!), I got a wonderful surprise. I could see all of Monterey Bay – from the Lighthouse at Point Santa Cruz, around past Santa Cruz, Capitola, Aptos, Moss Landing, to the flatter lands where the Salinas River enters the Bay. Then the Big Sur mountains rise up behind Monterey and go out all the way to the ocean.  The water was calm – very few waves for the surfers. The kelp beds were spreading out to enjoy the sunshine. The sea lions on the rock were chatting among themselves. Sea gulls soared over the water. I could see it all.

In “the olden days,” when I was a girl, I would never have thought that seeing all the way around a bay was anything special. I grew up in Eastern Washington state. We had clouds or sunshine. Sometimes we had fog. But you could always see across the river! And normally, you could see the surrounding mountains too.

Living on the coast, we never know from day to day whether the fog will be in or not. Even on a sunny day, the fog often sits in the middle of the Bay, blocking the view of the other towns and the mountains. But today it is clear. The smoke from the Summit fire is gone from the sky. The clouds we have are high and moving inland. The fog is sitting way off the coast, barely visible from land. And the view is stunning.

It occurs to me that the spiritual life is something like our views of Monterey Bay. Like the Bay, God is always present here – within us, among us, around us. I exist only because God has imagined me, given me breath, breathes through me, loves me continually into being. Yet all too often I don’t notice. I don’t see the beauty all around me. I miss the “love notes” scattered all around me – the flowers, the birds, the native bees in the weeds, the smiles of young mothers and their babies, the laughter of teens and the comfortable togetherness of retired couples out for a walk. I don’t see them for what they are, or worse, I don’t see them at all. I move through my life’s conversation doing all the talking, forgetting to look and listen for the presence of the Divine.

Today I pray that I’ll remember to open my eyes, ears, heart, mind to notice God’s presence. I’ll remember to ask myself, “What keeps me from seeing today?” I’ll remember to be grateful. I invite you to do the same. And maybe while we’re at it, we could also stop gratefully for a moment and ask, “What keeps us as a people from seeing today?”

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Posted by on Mar 26, 2008

Novena to St. Ignatius Loyola – Reconciliation – Fifth Day – July 27 –

St. Mary at Easter Tide


The Blessed Virgin Mary has many beautiful titles. St. Mary at Easter Tide is my very own. Scripture is very silent about the Mother of Jesus after the Resurrection. We know that she is present in the upper room when the Spirit comes upon the Apostles at Pentecost. At the Annunciation, the Angel Gabriel tells her nothing about her future, except that her Son will be destined for the rise and fall of many in Israel. Mary’s first post-partum visit to the Temple portends a life of sorrow. According to Simeon, a sword will pierce her heart seven times. This most beloved young woman is left to ponder these things in her heart.

There are many good years together, until He leaves to find his cousin John at the Jordan. Then things go from bad to worse. Her friends and neighbors toss Him out of Nazareth. Jesus dies a horrible death; His mission a failure; her maiden’s vision becomes a bitter delusion. In his final words, Jesus entrusts St. John and Mary to each other – a final testament that seals the depth of grief.

There is no record of how Mary hears the news; of how she reacts. Who tells her? Jesus Himself? It seems that this duty falls to us. The noonday prayer echoes a wonderful joy – Regina Coeli laetare alleluia! Queen of Heaven Rejoice alleluia! … Resurexit sicut dixit! He has risen as He said (he would)!

Even though the words echo from my childhood at “Mid-century,” how well I remember and still experience the delightful childish skip in our hearts and step that we shared at Easter Tide. These are not the inspired words of the Gospel in the Hail Mary, nor the briefest of summaries of the Mystery of the Incarnation in the Angelus. For a prayer, Regina Coeli seems strangely out of character. There is no formality, no reserve. In our joy, we proclaim the Good News to the Mother of the Word Incarnate. God has turned our mourning into joy, but how could we ever begin to fathom what his news meant to the woman whose faith gave birth to us all?

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Posted by on Mar 25, 2008

Novena to St. Ignatius Loyola – Reconciliation – Fifth Day – July 27 –

Easter Monday: Whale Watching With Angels


I had read in a book way back in grammar school at Holy Cross School in Ventura, CA, in a time that is now referred to as “Mid-Century,” about boys hiking in the Alps on Easter Monday for a traditional lunch at high altitude with the angels. That custom may or may not have been true, but the thought of having lunch with the angels has always intrigued me. Perhaps, because my patron is St. Raphael the Archangel, the thought has always been somewhat appealing. After all, if you were an angel, wouldn’t you want a little break after all the hullabaloo of Holy Week?

Circumstances prevented me from wandering into the Santa Cruz mountains looking for angels to share ham and Easter eggs. The day was perfect, with a mild breeze, as I headed out across Lighthouse Field to Point Santa Cruz. The sky and the water were dazzling as I headed west up the coast along the ocean before it rounds the Point into Monterey Bay. There was excitement in the air. Whales migrating south to the Sea of Cortez around the tip of Baja California were passing by 100 to 300 feet offshore. They showed some interest in a kayak heading in the opposite direction, but continued on in graceful arcs, undulating effortlessly in the current as they coursed through the water.

It was a strange moment. The moment the houses along West Cliff, the roiling waves and sunlight all got stretched onto an impressionist canvas. I could see the brush strokes, the layering of the oil, the weave of the canvas. My neighborhood of almost 20 years became completely magical, serene, and spirit filled. I had pounded this walk many, many times before and it was always striking, even when cares and illness were heaviest on my heart, but today it was literally unreal.

Well, I guess my patron Archangel and his buddies were not waiting for me in the redwoods after all. It wasn’t the picnic with the angels that I had imagined as a boy. Whale watching with the angels on Easter Monday is something else.

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