You can’t curb joy

frankarlaOne week ago today I got in my car and headed east towards the Berkshires. The day was cold, but sunny – perfect for the short one hour drive. My destination was Kripalu, which is a yoga and wellness retreat center. It has been years since my body has taken a yoga class, but my goal that day was not yoga. My friend Karla McLaren comes in from California to every few years to teach there, and we were overdue for a visit. Karla and I first “met” through blogging almost 10 years ago, when blogging was in a different era. We then met up at Kripalu a few years back.

Making my way through the town of West Stockbridge, I listened to the voice on the GPS interrupt the podcast of Dear Prudence that  I was listening to, telling me to turn left and right. I turned left and was immediately stunned as my right front wheel smashed into the curb. I was Continue reading

Unchanging, yet transforming

Pope Francis talks with cardinals as he leads the synod on the family in the Synod hall at the Vatican, October 5, 2015. REUTERS/Max Rossi (no relation!)

Pope Francis talks with cardinals as he leads the synod on the family in the Synod hall at the Vatican, October 5, 2015. REUTERS/Max Rossi (no relation!)

(Today I present a few rambling, insomnia fueled thoughts on the Synod on the Family and the state of the Church. I hope you will consider commenting, and I hope that no matter what you say, you will pray before doing so. The pause offers us all a moment of grace. How we move forward depends on the bishops – yes, but also the power of the Holy Spirit. Let us hope for the best – even if that best breaks our hearts. What are you praying for?)

You are more than likely aware of the Synod on the Family that began last year, which has resumed in Rome at this time. Depending on how you look at things, we are Continue reading

Sweet, lovely docile and passive? (a rerun)

I quite purposefully use this image of Mary from Medjugorje. Some of you know that as unlikely as it seems, I went there. This was originally posted in 2011, and I am reposting today on this Feast of the Nativity of Mary in 2015.

Little lady dressed in blue. That is an image of Mary that attracted me as a young girl and who seemingly called out to Continue reading

Temptation

Brooklyn_Museum_-_Jesus_Tempted_in_the_Wilderness_(Jésus_tenté_dans_le_désert)_-_James_Tissot_-_overallFrom the Gospel of Mark heard on the First Sunday of Lent:
The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan.

Jesus was tempted. Sometimes it may be difficult for us, with our binary brains, separating everything into one side or the other, to fully hold and understand Jesus’ full humanity along with his full divinity. As a result, understanding Jesus subject to truly difficult temptation can be a challenge.

Recently I was in Baltimore for the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and I heard James Martin, SJ speaking about Jesus humanity, as he often does. Jesus, Fr. Martin reminded us, felt all the things that we feel, from nausea to annoyance, from exhaustion to being achy, and everything in between. Those are my words, not his, but you get the idea. Today we are clearly reminded of Jesus’ human state in the Gospel, but can we resist the temptation to dismiss Jesus’ Continue reading

#takeupLENT

This is a great video from America magazine. Short, to the point, lots of America staffers, plus one famous special guest star, you get to hear what they are giving up for Lent.

As Fr. James Martin SJ points out, we also need to remember to be kind… it is not just what we are giving up. No matter you do, his advice is important. Be kind and love one another.

Saturday Lazy Blogger Edition

Can_call_you_back_Im_with_piece_of_string_Cartoon_print_by_Leo_Cullum_Published_in_The_New_Yorker_on_17_2005It hit me this morning… I have neglected you little bloggy blog, and you brilliantly beautiful blog readers. Nothing is wrong, just my typical post Christmas slowdown. In any case, if you are a new reader, welcome. If you have been with me for long or short while, thank you. If you found your way here today due to reading my reflection today in Give Us This Day – I am grateful that you made the journey.

Anyway, the cartoon to the left kind of says where I am. January  is typically my lazy month. In reality, I have been busy here, doing some January-ish things, such as cleaning and organizing. Also, I have some talks/teaching/retreats/travel coming up, not to mention some writing deadlines, so there’s that. In the very near future I will post Continue reading

Making time for prayer #whynot

whynotThe other day I posted about New Year’s Resolutions – or lack of them. If you read the post then you know that they have never been my thing – and that I have been prompted by the Spirit to ask the question #whynot? Why not try something new or different, something that has been long desired – or recently imagined – and see what happens? Most change, as we know, comes slowly. Many times one small change can bring forth more sweeping ones over time.

One thing that seems to come up for a lot of people is the desire to pray; either to begin a regular prayer practice, or to deepen an existing one. Speaking as the world’s most undisciplined person, I can tell you that the only consistent practice in my life is Continue reading

Hungry, Naked, and Sick

10702060_765501393522463_5332331349274774028_nYou heard the Gospel on Sunday, right? Well maybe some of you did, maybe some of you didn’t. Here is a snippet from Matthew 25:

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.’

This is Jesus speaking to us, reminding us of our Christian life and vocation. It is one of the most powerful Gospels, clearly telling us what to do if we want to follow and serve Jesus.

In early 2012 I was invited to contribute a few gospel reflections to a book that was being put together by Deacon Jim Knipper; the book would be sold to benefit others and his working title for his enterprise was “Homilists for the Homeless.” While flattered, and slightly mystified to why I was invited along, I said yes – imagining one of those spiral bound books you can get made up at Staples, sold in Jim’s parish gathering space. Was I ever wrong!

Imagine my shock and surprise when the dawn began to break in my head and I realized that I would be in a book with a number of spiritual and religious giants who were heroes of mine, such as Richard Rohr OFM. Then there was James Martin SJ, whom I had interviewed by phone once, and corresponded with a little – another person who inspired me regularly. These two were the big ones for me, but there were many others. This first volume of Homilists for the Homeless gathered voices that were ordained and lay, Catholic and other Christian, male and female, to break open the Scriptures for each Sunday and Holy Day in the Catholic liturgical year. And the title? Back to today’s Gospel, the book would be called “Hungry, and You Fed Me: Homilies and Reflections for Cycle C.”

We’ve been busy since then, still hearing that Gospel in our hearts and publishing “Naked, and You Clothed Me: Homilies and Reflections for Cycle A” last year. This November we have released our third volume in the series, “Sick, and You Cared for Me: Homilies and Reflections for Cycle B.”

This is new for this year - a box set of all three volumes. Available  at this link.

This is new for this year – a box set of all three volumes. Available at this link.

We’ve also been blessed richly, selling many, many books. The result has been that over $30,000 has been distributed to our selected charities for our first two years. We look forward to what the future brings and are grateful for our readers and such wide support.

16392_756880211051248_3157002784781926629_nOur list of contributors has grown since year one, keeping all the originals such as Deacon Greg Kandra, Fr. William Baush, and Michael Leach,  while adding some new voices. For example, last year we added names like Sister Simone Campbell SSS, Jan Richardson, Mary Sperry, Gregory Boyle SJ, Michelle Francl, Daniel Horan OFM, and Rob Bell. This year Deacon William Ditewig, Rev. Martha Sterne, and Margaret Blackie were added, and Joan Chittester OSB wrote our forward! All of our cover and interior art is done by Bro. Mickey McGrath OSFS. There are so many voices, names recognizable and others less so, but all quite gifted and passionate. You can find a comprehensive list of our contributors at this link.

I can’t even begin to express what an honor and privilege it is to be a part of such an august group. And that’s my ego speaking – the real honor and privilege comes from knowing just how many others are served because of these books.

Think the books are not for you because you are not a homilist, think again. We have many readers. Some use the books as homiletic resources for preachers from every tradition. Others use it to study, read, and pray. Groups and individuals use the books for weekly prayer and scripture study. I have heard of people bringing them to nursing homes and other facilities; I’m sure that they would be a welcome addition to prison libraries.

If you have purchased our books – we thank you! And if you are just learning about us, please have a look at our website. We are grateful for your purchase which puts the Gospel into action. Please “like” us at our Facebook page and “follow” us on Twitter. visit our Clear Faith Publishing website, where you will find other items for sale. We are also grateful for any social media sharing that you can offer us. Not for us, but for the sake of those who are hungry, naked, and sick. Which in the end, is all of us – completely dependent on Christ, completely dependent on one another.

Whimsy full of wisdom – UPDATED

We have a winner! The name chosen out of the hat was Linda Reid! Thanks to one and all for reading the blog, and hopefully the book!

JohnXXIII-1 Although this is not a book review, I am going to talk about a book – and yes, I am going to give one away. Yesterday two popes were canonized, becoming official saints in the canon of the Catholic church – St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II.

Bro. Mickey McGrath OSFS is a gifted artist, author, retreat leader, and speaker. He is also a dear friend, and a colleague of mine. His latest book is about one of our new saints, one who is close to Mickey’s heart. This book, published by Clear Faith Publishing, is called Good Saint John XXIII, Quotes & Quips from the Prophet of Peace.

The book is one that is full of the whimsy we may associate with Mickey’s art, but make no mistake – this is not just simple fun – this book is Continue reading

Jesus, A Pilgrimage – We Have A Winner!

970992_10152306293894233_290989403_nCongratulations to Ellen Rowe, whose name was drawn from the many names of those who submitted a comment to my review of Jesus, A Pilgrimage, by James Martin, SJ. Thank you for reading the post and entering, one and all. Many of you came to the blog through the posts and tweets by James Martin and America magazine, please keep coming back! All are welcome here, and I do run frequent book reviews and giveaways. That is to the joy of some and the dismay of others! (I am not renumerated for these reviews, in the majority of cases, I initiate the process.)

PrintA book review of Dan Horan OFM’s latest book, The Last Words of Jesus, A Meditation on Love and Suffering (Franciscan Media) will run on Tuesday, April 8, and a copy of that book will also be given away. Please read and comment on that post to win a copy! I like to say that I knew Dan Horan before he was Dan Horan, because we met before his blog Dating God became a hit, and before he was a widely published author. He had not yet become ordained as a priest at that time either. He’s a great guy and a wise scholar and author at a young age. If you don’t know him, you will want to, so please stay tuned.

You can learn a little more about Dan and his book in this video: