Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Bottomless Mercy of God

This phrase from this morning's Divine Office struck me.

What better way is there to describe God?

His mercy is bottomless. He loves us. He longs to forgive.

When we tilt our faces even slightly to God, He rushes in. Have you ever noticed this?

Jesus describes God as the father who searches the horizon for his lost son, longing for his return. When the father spots the son, though he is still far away, the father runs to him, arms outstretched, ready for a full embrace*.

In my own life, God rushes in and fills me when I incline my face to Him, even now. I am not worthy of this, yet His love compels Him. Years ago, when my foolishness caused me to stray, He waited for me, searching the horizon for my return. Where would I be if not for this?

I pray that tomorrow, on Divine Mercy Sunday, many will come to know His bottomless mercy, and that we who have received it will pray for those still on the way.

*Check out the story of the Prodigal Son in St. Luke chapter 15.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Hope. What a beautiful word, like musical sunshine.

Hope is the enticement that leads us forward on the path. It is what, at times, keeps us from plopping down in despair, never to get up.

Hope is Marian Wilson talking, singing, climbing stairs and making progress after her stroke, when at first the doctors said if she survived, she'd be in a vegetative state. Hope is knowing we didn't have to believe that. Hope is knowing our God can do anything when that "anything" is within His will.

We Christians are an Easter people, a people who live with the knowledge that resurrection lies beyond every cross.

After I received the Sacrament of Confirmation a few years back, an astonishing thing happened to me: hope came in the form of music. For months afterward, original words and music popped into my head, as though poured from above, over and over, like this one about Easter:

He came to the earth wrapped in human clothes
To show us the love of the Father, that's the role He chose
And when He died on that cross, it seemed that all was lost
Until on the third day He rose

He's alive! He rose from the grave that Easter morn
He's alive! In every heart that turns to Him and is reborn
He's alive in you, and He's alive in me
Father, Son and Holy Ghost, Blessed Trinity

Mary went to the tomb
Expecting darkness and death and gloom
But what she found there instead
Was our Lord, who wasn't dead
She ran to spread the news

He's alive! He rose from the grave that Easter morn
He's alive! In every heart that turns to Him and is reborn
He's alive in you, and He's alive in me
Father, Son and Holy Ghost, Blessed Trinity

We can know the love of this risen Lord
He knocks, and He's waiting for an open door
He longs to come in, and cleanse our hearts from sin
He lives your soul to win

He's alive! He rose from the grave that Easter morn
He's alive! In every heart that turns to Him and is reborn
He's alive in you, and He's alive in me
Father, Son and Holy Ghost, Blessed Trinity

There is always hope! Can you hear me humming? ;)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Real Bobinator

Here he is in all his red-headed glory, my other son, Bobby. He drove this tractor around the other day at his grandparents' ranch, and as I watched the back of his red head go down the drive, my heart hitched a bit. Was it that long ago that he sat on his father's knee as they did laps around the same gravel trail on the old red Farmall?! It's hard to believe he's now driving a tractor himself.

When Bobby was 15 months old, he followed his father around the garden, hoe in hand. He was always very serious about work; it was his play. We have photos of Bobby "changing the oil" in his tricycle, while in the background his grandpa worked on his truck.

I think it's this seriousness about his responsibilities that earns him praise from his teachers and the high school administration. That and the fact that he's so willing to help out. He's been called a hero by more than one teacher when he's taken care of a computer problem for them.

Bobby is a senior now and, Lord willing, will soon be off to college. I will miss this future computer engineer. I can hardly express how proud he's made me. I will try to sneak in as many hugs as possible while he's still around.

Here's to you, Bobby, and your bright future! Thanks for blessing our home with the gift of yourself.


I've had an interest in being many things in my life, some of which are listed here:

Marine Biologist
Helper to the poor
Pastor's Wife
World Leader (sounds silly I know, but as a child, I really admired Golda Meir)

But at bottom, deep inside, what I really wanted was to have a home filled with love, children and a husband who was my best friend. I stuffed that achy desire deep down in a well somewhere in my soul. I wasn't sure if it was OK to want that. (Mostly I wasn't sure if it was OK for ME to want that.) I chased years of false dreams before I gave in to what I really wanted.

The other night at Mass, the priest gave a blessing to pregnant women. He asked all the mothers in the church to stand and join him in blessing them. It came to me as I stood: I am exactly who I want to be, a mom with no regrets. How did I get so lucky?

I was looking for a picture of me in the throes of Mommyness (an "action shot" :), but, alas, we had no digital camera when the children were young. I chose this picture of my husband and me and I think it's appropriate. After all, without Russ' Daddyness, there would certainly be no Mommyness for me. And it was taken on a Mother's Day.

Oh, how grateful I am for this adventure!

Thursday, March 20, 2008


I love being Catholic!

Tonight's Mass of the Lord's Supper marks the beginning of the most holy time in the liturgical year, the Easter Triduum.

Five years ago I participated in my first Easter Triduum - Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and finally, the Easter Vigil Mass where I received my first Holy Eucharist and entered into full communion with the Catholic Church.

At the Mass of the Lord's Supper, Jesus' institution of the Eucharist (in other words, the first Mass) is celebrated. Traditionally, this Mass includes a foot washing ceremony, which is symbolic of Christ's institution of the priesthood. After Mass, the altar is stripped of cloths, and the Blessed Sacrament is taken out of the tabernacle in preparation for Good Friday, the only day when there is no Mass said anywhere in the world.

I can almost smell the incense and sense the presence of Christ now; I am thinking of His passing me as He was taken to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel from the tabernacle this evening.

There is an unbroken line of connection that exists between the Church today and Christ in the upper room that is amazing; but when we consider that the unbroken line goes back to the time of the Jews, it compounds the amazement. This evening's first reading was that of the Jews' Exodus from Egypt; our Paschal Feast is a continuance of their Passover.

The Easter Triduum is a heady experience for me. I now head straight to the events of Good Friday tomorrow, and then on Saturday I will share in the joy of Easter Vigil, when fifteen people from our parish will become part of the unbroken line of Christendom.

Oh, how I love being Catholic!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Riddle Me This

Here is the question of the day.

Which is the more loving thing to do, I wonder?

To speak the truth in love (that last part can be difficult), knowing that it may not be received well...

Or to remain silent in the face of unkindness?

I know there are lessons for me to learn...

I'm just not sure which ones!

Opinions are welcome...

A blessed Holy Thursday to you!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Pray for Marian Wilson

In an instant, without warning, in a flash, Marian Wilson was struck down by a stroke. She lies helpless in a hospital bed now and desperately needs our prayers. Little did she know when she woke that her day would turn out this way.

Baking for the parish bake sale must have seemed a benign activity; but one minute she was reaching into her cupboard for ingredients, the next she was unconscious and helpless.

Do any of us know when our lives might be forever changed? No. But how many of us live as though they might?

Luke 12:40: "You must also be ready, for the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him."

The Son of Man can come for us in many ways, whether it's illness, an accident or His return. How can we be ready?

Be like Marian, and serve Him fervently. Love those around you. Be faithful in your tasks. Believe. Live your spiritual life devoutly. Teach children about Him. Care for your family.

Matthew 25:10: "But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut."

I have no doubt Marian has oil in her lamp. She is ready to meet her Maker, if that is God's will.

Her condition is serious, but the prognosis is more hopeful than expected. That's the power of prayer. The people of our parish are storming Heaven unceasingly, saying Rosaries for her, devoting chaplets to her healing, pouring our hearts out in prayer throughout the day and into the night. We love Marian, and we want her back with us, whole and healed. God's will be done...

But we pray that His will includes a miracle or two.


Pray for Marian Wilson.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy William Patrick Day!

This is my youngest son, William Patrick. I thought it would be fitting to talk about him on the feast day of one of his namesakes. I got to pick his middle name (my husband picked his first), so I chose one that had been a favorite of mine throughout my life. I didn't pick it because of St. Patrick, but now that I'm Catholic, I'm very glad for the meaning behind the name.

He doesn't look like this anymore (now he's a teen with wild curly hair), but I love this picture of him. Its goofiness displays Billy's sense of humor. The grass in his helmet is from taking a spill on his bike and he decided to keep it that way for comic effect (a very Billy thing to do).

He is a young philosopher with true intellectual curiosity, and we have wonderful discussions. His still waters run deep, and he likes to ponder and reflect (kind of like his mom :). He's also a surprisingly adept writer and a budding cartoonist. I believe someday he will give Gary Larson a run for his money.

From his childhood interest in all things bug and lizard to his current interest in history and politics, he's keen to learn all about the world.

Here's to Billy on today, your day.

Love, Mom

PS Below is a link to St. Patrick's beautiful "Breastplate Prayer." Enjoy!

Prayer of St. Patrick

Sunday, March 16, 2008

His Passion: Then and Now

Today is Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion, which marks the beginning of the most powerful week in all of salvation history.

Mass began with the blessing of the palms. Later we heard the account of Christ's passion according to St. Matthew, meaning our parish community went from joy to sobriety in under ten minutes.

Listening to the reading in and of itself was deeply touching, but I was moved even more when we in the pews recited the part of the crowd: "Let Him be crucified!" What tragic, difficult words to say (I could barely get them out), but how true they are. My sins nailed Him to the cross; mine and all the rest of humanity's. I am no less guilty for His death than anyone else in all of history.

Today of all days, I was one of three Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist. Even as my head was reeling from the beauty and reality of our Lord's Passion (and my part in it all), I ascended the steps to the sanctuary to receive His Body and Blood... and then to distribute Him to others.

This is the personification of God's mercy and grace: we who crucified Him witness the recreation of His sacrifice at each and every Mass; we receive Him bodily into ourselves (what a miracle!); and beyond this, sometimes we are allowed the privilege of giving His Body and Blood to others.

Oh, what a God we serve!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

On Being Veronica

Last night at Stations of the Cross, the story of Veronica caught my heart. I began to think about how much I would like to be Veronica to Christ. She plays a very small role in the events surrounding Christ's passion, yet her actions tell a big story of love.

How can I wipe the Lord's face, I wonder? How can I bring Him comfort?

He tells us when we care for those He loves (which is all of humanity), we are caring for Him. He desires our fellowship, our love and our time. When my face is turned toward Him, I imagine He is pleased and satisfied.

I pray that through God's grace, every action will be done with love for Christ as its beginning and end. May the comfort of my Lord always be my goal.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Declaring the Glory of God

I was searching through photos of the universe and found an interesting thing: the stars and galaxies look alive, as though they're living creatures, with blood coursing through veins and hearts beating. Some of the intricacies of shape and color looked almost womb-like.

I have a friend who had a "near death" experience, the kind you read about or hear on TV, and since then she sees things in a much different way. She says we have no idea how much God is vibrating within living things on earth. She can't look at a tree without seeing vibrant, supernatural life running through it.

We live in an amazing place, this universe. It is completely incomprehensible to me in my current state. I am a dimensionally challenged creature, and what is around me and above me contains far more dimensions than I can imagine. (And I have a pretty good imagination! :)

I am convinced, absolutely convinced, that when we get beyond this earthbound life and are able to see the whole of creation, we'll understand how absolutely connected everything is. And we'll see our Creator's thumbprint on every piece of work.

Sunday, March 9, 2008


Tomorrow my friend, Michael, is going to take me to the Carmelite Monastery for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. (See the photo below.) That means when I leave the monastery grounds I will be a different person than when I arrived. I will be spiritually renewed, something I need, as it's been several months since I've made a confession. Like ashes in a fireplace, my inner spirit needs to be cleaned out.

God tells Isaiah: "...though your sins be as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool." (Isaiah 1:18)

What a gracious God we have who allows fresh starts! It's a bit like flipping the sign on my dishwasher from "dirty" to "clean" after I've run the cycle. We are washed in His grace.

His mercies are new every morning and I thank Him for that.

This is the Carmelite Monastery

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Rocket-Powered Friend

Like a friend of mine, this fellow's in a wheelchair, but that doesn't stop him from powering onward! And neither does it stop Cathy.

Cathy may as well be in a rocket-powered wheelchair. I hate to use a cliche, but she is a bit like the "Energizer Bunny" in that she keeps giving and giving and giving! She is determined to serve Christ to the fullest NOW, because she knows a time is coming when she'll have the will, but not the way. She has MS, but she rarely says the word "can't." When she uses her walker, she walks slowly, every step excruciatingly made, but her spunk-o-meter never settles down.

To say she is a beautiful example of facing a challenge head-on is far too tame a statement for her. Her weakened body is not her only cross. She has others. But she walks her path with dignity.

I have had the wonderful privilege of getting to know her better lately. Spending time with her always equals encouragement. Just thinking of her smile makes me feel warm. I am grateful for this woman, and for all who, like her, accessorize their crosses with grace!

Friday, March 7, 2008


In the last two days, the Lord has told me four different ways that what I was hoping to be rescued from is my cross to bear... at least for now. I can relate to St. Paul and his thorn in the flesh. He prayed three times for its removal, but it was there to stay.

This evening at Stations of the Cross, Christ's words showed me that it is my (difficult) privilege to carry a sliver of His cross. His quiet strength in the face of tormentors can bring me courage if I let it. It will help me be silent when everything in me is crying out to do otherwise. My prayer is to wear this cross beautifully. May I not resist, but follow His example. The good news is that when St. Paul discovered his thorn would not be removed, he also found this: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (II Corinthians 12:9)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Strength for the Journey

Tomorrow I will spend a precious hour before the Holy Eucharist in a sweetly hushed church. The smell of incense will be in the air, and our sung Latin will linger as memories in my ears.

I find such peace as I sit still before Him who created the universe. What will He say to me tomorrow, I wonder?

He who made the stars, hushed the storm, came to earth, bore the cross, resurrected, ascended to Heaven and sent the Holy Spirit comes to us in a simple church on the back streets of a humble town. He visits His people in bread and wine. He enters our bodies and gives us peace. He has been here, always, through the ages, in the hearts of His people, just as He promised when He walked the earth.

I cannot wait for my appointment with the King!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light." I Peter 2:9

Wow! Really? It's hard to think of myself that way. I sort of see myself as a little candle, like the one above, and even then my flame does not always flicker so steadily.

Many candles together can shine brightly for Him, like a holy nation. As Jesus says, "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden." Matthew 5:14

St. John calls Christ the Light. Think of it. Light… illuminating, warm,
healing, dispelling darkness, revealing truth, filling all space… light.

And this great Light tells us we are His lights in the world, individually and corporately. What an incredible honor, what great responsibility! But take heart - even a little light chases away the darkness, and small sparks grow into great bonfires.

"...let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven." Matthew 5:16

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


I once knew a woman who was intrigued by clotheslines. She had a photo collection of them in her home. In a similar way, I am attracted to pathways, maybe because I find them mysterious and hopeful all at once. This picture I found on the Internet is of a pathway in Scotland. The bright sunlight captured at the top of the photo seems to pull me in and beckon me forward.

In a certain area of my life, I am on a path with an unknown end. I am seeking God for answers and I do not know where He will lead. I do not know what God wants of me in the situation, and I pray I will be brave enough to follow the path He has for me.

A friend said this to me in an email yesterday: "We put our worries in His hands and then we are assured no matter what the outcome, it was for our best. This is the beauty of our faith." It was in relation to something completely different, and while I had no idea it would apply to me today, God did. :)

Psalm 119:105 says: "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path."

I will take heart in the light He gives now, and trust Him for more up ahead.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Blushing Bride

I love this picture: its sweetness, expectancy, innocence. I love the joy and anticipation in her face, as though she's looking at her beloved. It exudes purity.

Jesus makes me feel this way. He makes me feel pure and sweet, even when I've made choices that say otherwise. He gives me a new start, He wipes away my old mistakes. He wants the best for me, knowing I will stand before Him someday, along with the rest of His church. In His wisdom and mercy He brings me experiences, even painful ones, that teach me how to be His child. Slowly... surely... sweetly... He is making my crooked little heart straight.

Encourage One Another

"But encourage one another daily..." Hebrews 3:13

There is someone I know who never fails to provide encouragement just by being who they are. Their words make my soul feel wrapped in a blanket of spiritual soundness, so full are they of faith and commitment.

God is so creative in how He brings encouragement. Sometimes it's a "Veronica" to help for a moment, sometimes a "Simon" to help for a day, and sometimes a "Jonathan" to help for a lifetime.

I see each one as a holy messenger and am thankful for them all! I pray I may have the grace to pass forward what they give to me, like ripples in a pool.

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up..."
I Thessalonians 5:11

Saturday, March 1, 2008

What's in a Name?

A friend once said in jest, "I wish God would send us notes from Heaven in answer to our prayers!" I laughed along with her. Little did I know that years later, amazing as it sounds, He would do that for me!

Our parish is in the midst of preparing a dozen or so adults to receive sacraments on Easter Vigil. I feel like a proud mother when I think of what they will receive in just a short time, and their journeys are making me reminisce about mine. This Easter Vigil will mark the five year anniversary of my receiving Christ in the Eucharist for the first time.

A couple of them have asked me how to choose a confirmation name, which takes me back to when I chose my patron saint. I knew immediately (without pausing for thought) what my name would be: Teresa. Blessed Mother Teresa had been a great influence in my life, even before my journey toward the Catholic Church. Her "humble passion" was a great attraction to me. (Because she has not yet been declared a saint, the name is also in honor of St. Therese of Liseux and St. Teresa of Avila.)

I began to wonder later if I should have asked God for His input on the choice. Was I too hasty? Just in case, I said a little prayer asking Him to show me what name He wanted me to take.

I went about my day and almost forgot about the prayer. A couple hours later, the doorbell rang. It was my birthday, and a neighbor was at the door with a gift in hand. She was a little perplexed as she explained that her intention was to give it to me at Christmas, but it didn't arrive in time; instead it arrived just a few days before my birthday. All she could figure is that God wanted me to have it now, rather than then. She handed me the gift, then turned to go. Her words as she gave me the gift were, "This is so you!"

Feeling grateful, I took the gift inside and unwrapped it. Can you imagine how stunned I was when the paper unfolded and revealed a book of quotes from Mother Teresa?! That was a much bigger gift than I had expected to receive!

I am grateful for my trio of patron saints Teresa, and for God who gave me my marching orders that day. :)