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.

Blowing in the wind

PJP_Final-1080x810On Saturday I went to church at 4pm because that’s what I do. Except for when I don’t, because sometimes I feel as if I simply cannot go to church. It does not happen often, but when it does, it comes on me in waves; I recently came off of a wave. Right now you might think I would feel like I could not go, but no – I went to church freely. In fact, I definitely felt like I wanted to go to mass.  Since the PA Grand Jury and abuse revelations were mentioned so openly and humbly last week, plus the mention of a parish wide meeting as a listening session for our pastor was brought up, I knew I could not, and did not want to stay away. Also there was a mass intention for my brother, and not least of all I really want to support my priest and be present with my community.

This does not mean everything is OK. In fact it is not. Things are horrifying, humiliating, angering, frustrating, disgusting, did I say horrifying? You get the picture. Yet, off to church I went.

Recently I have been thinking a lot about Continue reading

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Giving-Receiving-Giving

 

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“All my children, what I leave to you: Have charity, guard humility, and make your treasure out of voluntary poverty.” – St. Dominic

St Dominic was a canon at the cathedral in Osma, Spain.  He was traveling with a bishop in France when he encountered the who believed in the Albigensian heresy. This heresy essentially said that all material creation was evil. St Dominic began to preach against this deeply entrenched heresy and the Order of Friars Preachers was born out of his desire to use persuasion and not force Continue reading

Seamless, shredded

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When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four shares, a share for each soldier. They also took his tunic, but the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top down.
– John 19:23

Of all the many things dividing the Church these days, it boggles the mind to imagine that disagreement over when it is appropriate to kill someone would be the thing to do it. And that it would be a fight from a seemingly more-ardent self-proclaimed “pro-life” right that led the way… the way to saying that we should indeed preserve the right to, well – kill someone.

Although it is probably not the best use of my time, and even less Continue reading

James Baldwin, American hero

EDIT baldwin2_1050x700Today would have been the 94th birthday of James Baldwin. The poet, writer, and activist died in 1987. If you have never seen the documentary film “I Am Not Your Negro” I highly recommend it. Baldwin had a courageous and prophetic voice, he was far ahead of his time. I heard him say these words in a video clip this morning ( I watched so many clips) so I made this image. The words are really staying with me. Baldwin was fierce and unafraid to say what he believed, but he was not a pessimist. His memory upholds that vision.

I’m including this video clip of the trailer for the film – I hope you get to see it.

Keep walking

Today is the Feast of St. James, patron of pilgrims. The Camino Santiago is named for him – Saint James translates to Santiago. Two years ago on this day, I dreamed of what it might feel like to go on the Camino de Santiago, to leave St. Jean Pied de Port, France on foot end up in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Like millions of other pilgrims over the past 1200 years or so, I found out.

Saint James Pilgrim Apostle

Santiago, Patron of PIlgrims. Photo taken at the Museo das Peregrinacións e de Santiago.

To walk the Camino is a real gift; it will change your life in every possible way. I know that it did mine! How grateful I am that I was able to be a pilgrim, in great part because of so many of you and your generosity. Your material support and prayers carried me along The Way.  Aches, pains, blisters, frustration were all part of the mix. However, what is enduring is the pure joy of awaking each day, lifting up your pack, and walking. And walking. And walking. The walking is often alone, quiet, peaceful. There is also communal time, shared with joy with friends from around the world.

Leaving CastrojerizAll along the path one is reminded of St. James, Santiago, el apóstol, the patron of pilgrims. On the Camino or in daily life, we are all pilgrims. Today and every day, may your steps be blessed. St James, patron of pilgrims, watch over us all.

Ultreia! Keep Walking! Buen camino! Siempre camino!

Monday mood

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Yes, I’m posting two days in a row – shocking, right? Anyway, with thoughts of immigration on my mind, this song is on my mind, it speaks to my Monday mood.

No one is more aware than I am that this issue began before the current administration. This administration has taken the situation to horrific ends. Part of the song deals with one of the band members, a #DREAMer named Jose “Pepe” Carlos who was brought here to the United States when he was five years old.

Elie Wiesel, a giant of a human being and now of blessed memory once said:

“You, who are so-called illegal aliens, must know that no human being is illegal. That is a contradiction in terms. Human beings can be beautiful or more beautiful, they can be fat or skinny, they can be right or wrong, but illegal? How can a human being be illegal?”

Open borders are not the answer, but fear and hatred are also not the answer. I’m not sure what the best path forward is, but I am sure that we are not on that path.

The band is La Santa Cecilia, and the song is ICE El Hielo. You can read more about the band and the song here.

The journey

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photo Tom Kiefer

Today’s Gospel reminded me of the now well documented photographs of objects confiscated from those who have been apprehended at the border, El sueño americano by Tom Kiefer. For those with any doubt, this has been verified. The rosaries received a lot of attention, but all of the items truly struck me, including the copies of El Nuevo Testamento that was so important to have. There were also the other items, the everyday things like combs, toothpaste, and so forth, as well as items from children.

As if it were not enough that we took away rosaries and New Testaments, now we take their children too. I can’t help but wonder what God thinks of all of this. Ultimately what we have really stolen from people is what little hope and dignity they had left after fleeing lives of extraordinary poverty, extreme and violence, lives with no future. If we stole their dignity and their hope, then I think we are really in trouble.

Right now I am thinking of the martyred apostles sent forth by Christ, unwelcome, considered unwanted and dangerous. To this day, many are killed bringing the light of Christ to others in dangerous places. We all know we cannot take anything on that final journey home to God whether we are an apostle or a beggar, a prophet or a king. In the Kingdom we arrive with only ourselves. Our hope for the Kingdom is for our dignity and integrity to be fully restored in the presence of God. Don’t you think that kind of reconciliation and restoration, at least to some extent, is what God asks of us here? This is our journey in Christ, to go out into the world as beacons of hope and light in his name, disciples always bearing the light of that same Jesus Christ who welcomed, healed, and saved all.