About Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

Pilgrim, writer, speaker, retreat director, social media minister, church secretary - it's hard to believe I was once a corporate executive, but I was. Married to an incredible man, have a spectacular stepdaughter, dog and cat.

Lent in the time of COVID-19

Last Thursday I offered a video reflection at the parish where I work; I will do the same on Holy Thursday. Here is last week’s video. Even if you are not on Facebook, you can watch the video by clicking the link. At the parish where I worship, I was asked to record a reflection, if they decide to use it, I will post when available.

May your Holy Week, be blessed in these unusual times. I am grateful for you all and please know I hold you in prayer.

Video link is here.

Put love

tumblr_o8y3h820oa1qaowvro1_500In addition to remember that we are not to be afraid, right now might be a good time to remember to be kind. It does not take much… wait a minute, it does take a lot. Especially at times of stress and uncertainty, which is where we are right now.

Help one another, thank people who continue to do their jobs, such as first responders, doctors, nurses, all medical personnel, grocery store employees, garbage collectors, postal carriers, UPS and other delivery drivers, pharmacists and drug store employees, local and federal government workers, many behind the scenes, working to make sense of this new reality, restaurant workers and food delivery people. Remember ministers, priests, and others who are on the front lines physically or virtually, tending to the souls of those who are troubled or ill. Who are those souls? All of us.

Think of how everyone’s personal economy will be impacted in ways large and small. Share what you have. Donate to a food pantry, even if it is just one can of soup. If everyone did that, there would be a lot of food. Offer to pick things up for a more vulnerable neighbor and then leave it at the door. If you can, tell them not to worry about the money.

Share your friendship and love with others, especially those hardest to share it with. Remember to smile, something you can do online as well. Offer a greeting. Be patient. Try not to lose hope. Encourage others and allow yourself to be encouraged.

These are strange and trying days, let us be kind to one another. The words of St. John of the Cross remain in my heart in a special way right now. May we all follow this and remember that love is action, decision, commitment, not romance or just a feeling. Love is your life, be it always. It is hard. Will you help me? I will help you. May we all put love where there is little or none, each and every day.

Do not be afraid

Just a short post at a busy time. While I understand the impulse, and have to manage my own desire for it, I am praying about the panic buying in the face of the coronavirus outbreak.

Our focus should always be on some kind of life oriented to others, not ourselves. During Lent, the need to practice this way of living becomes even more clear. What does it mean if we give up chocolate, social media, or alcohol, but buy a case of toilet paper? Whatever our Lenten practice is, how does panic buying bring us closer to God? I’m not asking about the desire to panic buy, but rather the act itself. The desire is no surprise, the act is where we encounter something deeper. And if we have done the panic buying, how will we proceed with both the material goods and the internal spiritual journey?

My panic buying Continue reading

Even now

Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God. -Joel 2:12-13Desert Heart

Even now… what a beginning. Even now… No matter what, even now, return to me. That is pretty clear, isn’t it? God seeks our return now – even now.

We cannot fix ourselves, we cannot be transformed without God and without one another. Even now, it is never too late, return by journeying through the desert. We are to rend our hearts and not our garments, a task that is so much harder. It is easy to rip one’s own garment than it is to open our prickly hearts, yet our prickly hearts with all their flaws is what God wants. God already knows our hearts, so there is nothing to fear.
Let us journey together into the desert with Jesus and see what transpires and transforms.

May your Ash Wednesday and your Lent be blessed. May we journey well together, stumbling through the desert with our desert hearts exposed and ready for healing, even now.

Hero takes a fall

ME_452_Expectations

Others living up to expectations… right now that seems impossible for so many. 

The news about L’Arche and Jean Vanier shocked so many of us. Yet another hero fallen, the great man has done terrible things. If you have no idea what I am talking about, please see this link.

At first – after the shock, after feeling ill about it, I started to realize that maybe I was not shocked at all. Sometimes I think that my ability to be shocked is long gone. Having grown up in a family of abuse, having gone through quite a long and ultimately healing journey of life, I have a very distinct and perhaps quite different point of view. Long ago I had to make some peace that it is entirely possible that the most beloved humans in your life may also be the most broken ones. As a result, they may end up working to break you, intentionally or not. How do you make any sense of that? I cannot give you a map, I can only tell you that it is so hard to hold it all, but it can be possible.

How my heart aches for women who were manipulated by Vanier and then had to hear a steady stream of how great he was. I cannot imagine how any of them must have felt. What a mess and what an abuse of power.

When I read this particular news, after gut punch beyond gut punch of such news, I began to think…  what is God trying to say to us?  Beyond that I started to wonder about what is being gestated in the Spirit? And what is trying to be born? Here we are at the gateway to another Lenten season and the question screams out at me – what will die, what needs to die? Things do need to die during Lent, so that thing can be born. What is trying to be born? What do want from new life? And how will we live our resurrection?

That is where I begin my Lent, with the reminder that another hero takes another fall. As this was happening we also got news that the sainthood cause of Rutilio Grande SJ as Pope Francis declared him a martyr. Normally I would be cheering about this, but today I am not of that mind. I have long loved and admired his work and memory, but right now I feel anxious about priests, about men being declared saints. At least for the moment until we can come to some realistic place about what sin is and what grace is and what healing is. And until we can some to some place where truth is told and reparations are made in meaningful ways. I am not supposing that anyone else has abused anyone, but I am exhausted by learning dark truths that were buried in falsehoods, in woven tales, and in lies. Maybe we just need a moratorium, even for those we love and cherish, we need some time.

downloadHonestly, I feel as if I enter Lent stunned by so much information, and I enter Lent craving silence, space, stillness, and peace. And I enter Lent without much chance to get large doses of any of those things. So it goes, I will carve out the small places and spaces of solitude needed.

How do you enter Lent? Who has fallen in your life? What has died? What needs to die? Whatever it is, may your days be blessed. I will try to do some writing, but as you know things have been spotty of late. We will see what God has in store for us. Onward, onward we go – fallen heroes and all.

See you in Los Angeles!

33397505_10160498361750088_6910372254916280320_nAre you headed to LA for the 2020 LAREC? If so, please stop by booths 584, 586, 588 to visit Clear Faith Publishing. Bring this ad in this image to get a 10% discount on all merchandise.

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Come meet us and learn more about our varied offerings! 

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Light

Light from pastIn today’s Gospel Jesus tells us – yes, us – that we are the light of the world.

“Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father.”

The photo at the top is one that I took in Amsterdam this past December. At he time this light display of words both intrigued and bothered me.  It was part of a citywide light show done each December, and this particular display was meant to explain the physics of light.

True enough, light from the past is indeed solid science, but the thought of light being from the past also gave me a sense of hopelessness. What about now, right now? Were is the light? It can be hard to see.

Today it hit me, light from the past illuminates the present. If we – yes, we – are not light today, who will illuminate tomorrow? We are indeed the light of the world and our good deeds brighten the present and light the way ahead. The words from Psalm 119:105 spring to mind, “your words are a lamp unto my feet, a light for my path.”  As the Word illumines our way, our deeds a a light for others.

The light is everywhere, it is from the past. The will be in the present and future, will you be there for it?