Category: Featured


My work predominately involves the preparation of men and women for marriage in the Catholic Church, as well as listening to those who are struggling within their marriage. This gives me a particular perspective on some of the common communication struggles that can plague a couple and eat away at their good intentions. My husband and I have the personal experience of thirty-nine years of marriage. That certainly doesn’t mean we have it all figured out, but, together we are striving to do the good work of learning the selfless nature of love, and the art of better communication.

With all this as a backdrop, I simply propose to share in this article, ways that might help men understand where women are coming from, and how they may obtain insight into our way of thinking and acting. I do the same in a subsequent article entitled, “What Husbands Want Their Wives to Know.”

I hear the same issues over and over and while mostly common to women, there are times when the roles are reversed, so the suggestions can apply as well.

1. Hear what I am not saying.

I realize this is rather ambiguous since women can seem to say rather a lot. While it feels like we speak of many things unrelated or unconnected to the matter, we often tend not to say what the real issue is immediately. Why? Sometimes we don’t know how and we need you to try harder to help us, because sometimes, we don’t “get us” either. Your desire to want to know us deeper is tremendously important. We don’t always want to have to give you hints, or the outright answers. While this would be easiest and less hassle, when you make an effort to crack the code and help us communicate more effectively,  it feels like we are a team working towards the same end.

It takes work, patience, love, and persistence to simply begin to scratch the surface of who we are as a woman. Maybe this analogy will help. It’s like the end of a ball game when only ten minutes are left on the clock, which really translates into an hour, as the painstakingly hard work of yard by yard results eventually yields a goal. Expend that effort on us and you too will gain points and yardage.

We are complex by design. An ever changing emotional roller coaster ride that God has put you on for a reason. So, buckle up and hang on, the ride is worth the effort!

Because we are wired differently than you are, we require much more. The effort you make will be worth it to us and to the marriage. God made us to complement you in a way that both brings out the best in each of us, as well as the worst at times.

Then there are the moments when we say very little and expect you to deduce where we are failing to be direct. Which leads to number two.

2. We don’t want to have to tell you what’s wrong, or what we want you to do.

Quite frankly, we think you should already know. What seems utterly obvious to us, can be as clear as mud to you. I have finally learned that after decades of marriage, if I start a sentence with these eight little words, “you would think after _____ years of marriage…” this immediately shuts down the channels of communication and he is closed for business.

What this potentially volatile statement does is assume our spouse is a clueless Neanderthal who hasn’t put two and two together for decades. It puts him on the defense, disrespects him, and worse closes the door to healthy communication. I am not entirely sure why simply stating what we want or need, is something we women are so reticent to do. It saves a lot of hurt feelings and disagreements if we just spit it out in a loving and honest way.

But instead…

3. We expect you to read our minds.

While I am no more able to read his mind than he is to read mine, we tend to do this all the time. When I state that we are not “wired” the same, it means we do not communicate in the same manner either. Which takes us back to number two in needing to articulate clearly, patiently, and lovingly so that our man can understand us, like no one else on the planet can.

Instead…

4. We state that, “nothing is wrong” when in fact, something is very wrong.

We want you to read our body language and not assume that the words coming out of our mouths echo the sentiments of our hearts or minds. If we are not shutting down out of sheer frustration and exasperation, we may walk, stomp, or run away, crying or fuming if you fail to read all the signs to the contrary, and instead dismiss us out of frustration.

Please help us to say what is really on our minds and to have integrity between what we say and what we mean. We really do need your help, and actually want your help, even if we say we don’t. Thus, the vicious cycle continues.

We fail to give you adequate information and it becomes nearly impossible…

5. For you to connect all the dots.

Remember that little activity we did as kids, drawing a line from number to number in a methodical way eventually yielding something identifiable? When you take the time to ask clarifying questions, in a patient and gentle way, you will be rewarded by connecting the dots which will help you understand with clarity what our issue is.

We want you to connect the dots because that is what will bring you closer to not only the heart of the matter, but our heart. This is the place of vulnerability and intimacy, and we will protect it at all costs. Think intimacy, “into-me-see,” which by the way is not another word for sex.  It is here that we will allow you to come to know us in a way that very few know or understand us. The bigger the history of our hearts being abused, the more difficult it is to get there. It is however, a place reserved only for you, if you will take the time to get there.

Bottom line, we are partners in this life-long endeavor called marriage. We are teammates who should lift each other up, step up to serve one another, and step out to have a good time now and then. We need to be assured that we are safe with you, as you lead us in love. Our prayer time together is critical to protect our union and the family we build, fortify, and shove out the door at the proper time so that way we can have you all to ourselves again.

Finally, don’t forget the efforts you made back when we were dating. Don’t let that fire die. Surprise us, be romantic, show us how special we are to you. It really is the little things, done with regularity that make the biggest difference. Make time for us and put us above everything else but God. Give us the best of you, not what is left after everything else. We promise to try and do the same, because each of us deserves it.

When we allow everything and everyone to come before our spouse, our marriage suffers. When that happens, the whole family suffers. It starts and ends with us. Happy wife, happy life as they say. Be a man of prayer and let the Source of all love flow through you to me.

It’s that easy, and that hard. But together with God, we can do it well. “What Husbands Want Their Wives to Know” will follows Fair is fair, after all.

This piece serves as a follow up from my previous article entitled, “What Wives Want Their Husbands to Know.” While these articles are in no way exhaustive, they are common stumbling blocks I encounter in my work in marriage ministry. Both in the preparation side and marriages in crisis.

One young husband stated after reading my previous article, “you are expecting the impossible.” Perhaps from his standpoint, it can feel that way. The onus is not on one OR the other, but rather BOTH spouses, to make small efforts that narrow the gap of expectation. Generous amounts of patience, love, and always giving each other the benefit of the doubt, go a long way in minimizing conflict and misunderstanding.

I propose that we have much to learn from each other as well. God made us unique and different for a purpose, so let’s endeavor to better understand each other. Wives that I spoke with, agreed that there are further efforts we can make as women, to effectively communicate what we want or need in a loving and respectful manner, so that we might work together as a team.

Below you will find recommendations from men in long, healthy marriages. The suggestions they offered were expectedly similar and I am most grateful for their frank honesty.

“Lay it on the table, be honest about how you feel.”

Men are usually upfront and straightforward. What you see is what you get. When checking if their spouse is okay, and the response is “fine,” they are going to take her at her word. Wouldn’t we want them to do that anyway?

They likely won’t consider body language or deduce if what she says equates to how she is acting. Avoid miscommunication and just say exactly what it is you want your husband to know or do for you.

“Let us know if you want us to fix your problem or just to listen.”

Men are “fixers” by nature. They want to help make things better and easier if they can. “We may mentally start working on your problem as you continue with your conversation and are not giving you our full attention as we do so. We don’t multitask well. So, if you state that we “aren’t listening” you are probably right, because we are busy trying to find a solution for you.”

“Listen to the words I am saying, don’t get distracted by the tone or volume.”

“Louder doesn’t necessarily mean I am angry at you.” In retelling frustrating events, emotions can come raging back. “It isn’t necessarily about you, or that I’m mad at you. If I’m getting a little loud, clarify. You sound angry, is this directed towards me?”

“State plainly what you need.”

Don’t demand. Don’t talk to us like we are dumb or lazy or a child. If you want the trash taken out, define your parameters.” If you want something done faster let us know, otherwise we will get to it on our time line.

“When I share something with you, and you overreact towards me or worry anxiously for days, you are effectively making sure I will keep it to myself in the future.”

I have heard this a lot from men. If the personal cost is too high due to our over reactions, i.e. yelling, pouting, excessive anxiety or the silent treatment etc.; they learn to keep things to themselves. If we want them to be open and share their world with us, then we must learn to moderate our emotions. It’s important to ask if he wants feedback or to just have you listen. Men don’t want to stress out their wives, nor have them needlessly dwell on the topic. Let him know you are there for him, encourage him, and support him. Your belief in him making the best choice, goes a long way.

“Be patient with our hard-headedness when we are wrong.”

Being wrong is a “hard pill to swallow” for anyone, but especially for men. This is not the time to try and fix or correct him. Men are usually aware when they are wrong. Give him time to work it out. It is particularly unhelpful when wives keep reminding them when they were wrong. Men can be much “harder on themselves” when they’re wrong and wives who “poke the bear” will rightfully get growled at.

“We don’t show affection as often as we should.”

“We are different than you. We know we should be more romantic, we know we can take you for granted at times. But know this, we really do love you and just because we don’t do all the little things you want doesn’t mean we don’t care.”

Marriages that strive to live out sacrificial love, image God’s unconditional love to the world. God made us different on purpose. There is a complementarity to the male/female relationship when understood and properly lived out. St. John Paul reminds us in Love and Responsibility,

Love is never something ready made, something merely ‘given’ to man and woman, it is always at the same time a ‘task’ which they are set. Love should be seen as something which in a sense never ‘is’ but is always only ‘becoming’, and what it becomes depends upon the contribution of both persons and the depth of their commitment.

Marriage is lifelong because it takes us a lifetime to learn to die to self and serve the other. It is sacrificial, because love seeks to do what is best for the other first, and to subordinate self.

When we as spouses take the time to really love one another, to constantly pour our self out in a gift to the other, we grow in virtue, and beautiful things start to happen in our marriage. Grace flows from the Sacrament, and we begin to transform and do what used to seem impossible. Not taking our spouse for granted or thinking we have them all figured out, denies them the opportunity to continue “becoming.”

May God abundantly bless us in our efforts to live this love out in our marriages.

What is it about we humans wherein we want diamonds, but we settle for broken glass? We see this in many areas of our life; jobs, exercise, and relationships to name a few. We want good things for ourselves, meaningful work, a sleek rock-hard body, a learned mind, a happy fulfilling marriage- all of which are attainable goals.

I do not write as someone who has figured it all out. My journals are still packed with years of wanting to “eat healthy and lose weight… blah, blah, blah.” At this point in my journey I am seriously running out of time on Earth. It’s now or never.

What is it that motivates some people to go after what they want with all the gusto of a hurricane, while others sit on the sidelines just wishing it were them? Did the Lord bless them with a double dose of virtue or what?

Let’s look at the area of relationships since I’m in the marriage business and have a ringside seat.

When it comes to marriage, some well-meaning couples naively try to fit a square peg into a heart-shaped hole.

We all know people who try with all their might to force a long-term relationship to happen. Maybe they’ve been together for years, perhaps even live together, and are sexually active, (duh!). They both have spoken and unspoken expectations of each other, and are hopeful the other will eventually deliver. Each hopes the other will change over time or perhaps after they are married (if they ever get that far). There may even be serious disparity on the things that matter. What the other person is willing to deliver, and the expectation, may be as wide as the canyon; yet they stick it out. A necessary attribute critical to marriage, but ill-advised in cohabitation. They aren’t particularly fulfilled personally or with the other, but they don’t want to give up or leave because they’ve “invested too much” already. The second-rate fantasy they settle for, is better than being alone.

Or is it?

We were meant for greatness, and for happiness beyond our wildest imagination. Why do we remain in relationships that are less than we deserve? Believe it or not, settling is so far beneath our dignity. The question before us then is do you think happy, faithful, fun, life-long marriages are attainable or a fairy tale?

Am I advocating giving up on your spouse if you are currently in an unfulfilling marriage? NO! Start here for suggestions on how to begin the good work of a happy marriage. I am specifically addressing unmarried relationships which we don’t end of out of fear of loneliness, what other’s might think, or the loss of deposits.

Questions that are worthy of pondering honestly and deeply in your heart are these;

  • Does the person I love, love me more than they love themselves?
  • If some unforeseen illness or accident should befall me, would this person stick around for the long haul to take care of me?
  • Am I first in their life? Before work, friends, extended family, pets, or even ice cream? Yes, ice cream. (Notice I didn’t say chocolate, LOL)
  • Does he or she challenge me to be a better person?
  • Would I brag about all aspects of this person’s character, interests, or what they do behind closed doors, or is there embarrassment or shame?
  • Are there any addictions or harmful behaviors that I am ignoring and hoping will go away?
  • Would I want this person to be the parent of my child? (As they are now, not what I hope they will become?)

If you are not deliriously happy with pretty much every attribute of this person, then I ask you to consider seeking what is best for both of you. Using each other is nothing, compared to loving each other? They are diametrically opposed. Love places the other above self, always. Lust places self before all else. It might just be worth the risk of being alone for awhile as you figure things out, weighing the implications of the notion that you both deserve better than what the relationship has delivered.

I’ve noticed when couples get on the “marriage train” they don’t know how to get off, even, when there is a “red flag parade” preceding them to their wedding day. It’s one thing if your wedding color is red, and quiet another if it is indicative of the status of your relationship.

God has a plan for each of us. Some for married life, others single, and still others a vocation in religious life. Living out your unique vocation only leads to great happiness.

The first place to begin is by asking God to show you what wonderful plans he has for you, and to give you the necessary courage if it means leaving a long-time relationship. It is much more painful trying to force something that isn’t right, than to surrender to new possibilities. Prayer and God’s grace will make the journey easier. Believe, and trust that God’s plan for your life will be immensely better than all the wishing you may be doing, hoping someone will be the someone, they are not.

In my work preparing engaged couples for marriage, I find myself pondering what might have been different for us, if my husband and I would have been required to take the same prep that is currently offered in the Diocese of Phoenix. While we were married in Phoenix over thirty-eight years ago, the marriage prep was minimal.

It was the seventies, (need I say more). I had met my future spouse in a disco. Yes, God does answer prayers and work within the confines of our reality at the time. Mark was a Second Lieutenant in the Air Force, still wet behind the ears from the Academy, and in pilot training. Stationed in beautiful Arizona, he was “looking for love in all the wrong places.” (wrong music genre, but appropriate for the story) I was in college and working full time at the local hospital.

I had been praying the Rosary for help in finding a good spouse. Other than that, it was work, disco, and homework. I knew my prayers were heard the night we met and began dating. Due to his flying schedule we could only see each other on weekends, but we made the most of the little time we had together.

Months later when he had graduated and received the assignment we never wanted, a remote tour to South Korea under Martial Law; he proposed.

The clock was ticking as he had orders to begin training outside of Arizona. We made a hasty appointment with the parish Priest who was also a family friend. I remember meeting with Father, I cannot recall what he said or if we took a marriage prep inventory or not.

Mark then departed after we set a date for the following November. I would see him only once more before he went overseas, and then not again until a few weeks before the wedding. No texting, emails, skype or similar communication, just letters that took weeks to arrive. We kept a steady stream of those coming back and forth across the Pacific.

You can bet we were not discussing the expectations we had for each other as husband and wife. Nor the best strategies for conflict resolution, finances, or effective communicating. We were going to have to learn on the fly in a very tense situation, while being alert to the fact that I might be immediately evacuated from country.

Would we have been receptive to a class on “Theology of the Body” or “Natural Family Planning” that my couples must take? I’d like to think so. Not unlike the couples I work with, we worked, went to school, and got the prerequisite fun in on the weekends. I couldn’t have known then what I know now about the key importance of good marriage preparation.

In hindsight, I can clearly see that what we offer the couples now would have been so helpful, saving us from years of miscommunication and misunderstandings. It would have offered opportunities for deeper and more insightful discussion on areas that were simply avoided out of ignorance or not talked about out of fear. I believe it would have better prepared us for the storms that were just over the horizon we weren’t even anticipating.

Yet, “That which doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger.” Thankfully, God was squarely in the center of our relationship. We hadn’t learned yet the vital importance of praying together daily, of sharing what was on our hearts, and for me, just asking for what I needed from him rather than assuming he could read my mind. That last one took me decades to overcome.

One of our sons sent us a clip of a comedian talking about this very thing recently and he said something most profound, “women think a statement is a command, they don’t just come right out and say what they want because they don’t want to sound bossy.”

He continued, “men want to do what women want, they just need clear commands.” Even that little segment would have been helpful so many years ago, (well actually right up until last year).

By the grace of God, our faith, (hurt feelings, unnecessary arguments, lots of tears) and persistence, we discovered in the trenches, what would have been more beneficial in boot camp.

I have experienced eight years of accompanying these couples as they prepared for their own marriages. I’m blessed to see countless “ah-ha moments,” and receive amazing positive feedback from the couples themselves about the classes. Good prep makes all the difference.

So here it is, if you want your marriage to succeed in a challenging culture that has itself been the casualty of many failed marriages, I invite you to take advantage of every possible avenue the Catholic Church offers for preparation. Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed and think you can’t fit another thing in your schedule, you are the greatest benefactor of the efforts you make. Think, happily ever after!

There is also a great online, pre-cana course that you can take advantage of if the prep in your Diocese is inadequate or needs a boost, http://www.catholicmarriagepreponline.com. Don’t worry, I’m not getting any kickback here, just sharing a great resource!

May God in his abundant love and generous mercy grant you the most amazing happily ever after and help your marriage become the joyful witness this world so desperately needs.

Is There Something More

What do you do when you feel this inner pull that wants to move your life in a different direction? When the day to day brings you no joy and you get the sense you should be doing something else, something worthy, that somehow has value and meaning. Maybe you just ended up in the job you have now, it doesn’t bring you satisfaction, doesn’t set your heart on fire, or give you any sense of deep accomplishment. It takes every ounce of strength you can muster to get yourself out the door each day.

Is this all there is, or is there something more?

The finite will never fill the hole you have in your heart, or your life. You were made for greatness.

So what do you do when you wish you were doing something else? When you feel this pull inside of you to take a different route, try a different course, follow a dream you once had before the reality of life kicked in the door.

There is a course of action that will bring you great satisfaction, fill the recesses of your hearts longing even when you don’t know what you are longing for. You can only ignore the feeling, and distract yourself for so long. Cause it’s always there in the background, just under the surface, right around the next bend, calling, compelling, inviting you to stop and sit and listen.

Why are we so afraid of silence? It is but a respite from our frenzied life, a pause button on an irritating song, an exit off the highway that leads to a beautiful park. How do you know what that something more might be if you don’t stop and listen? There is so much noise now. So much confusion than ever before. So much more loneliness, disconnectedness, fear.

It needn’t be so.

So I invite you to find a place each day where you can stop, sit, and listen to the wee small voice that won’t shout, won’t make itself heard over the whirl and pulsations of the world. Take off your headphones,  silence the phone, and stop all the distractions that keep you on the hamster wheel from hell.

Do this for yourself, just 10 minutes each day. You will find that you will crave this time where you can recharge, be free of finite things and ponder the Infinite.

In my work preparing couples for marriage, I have had to account for the unexpected implosion of a marriage where I was once part of the preparation. Sometimes I hear about the troubles first hand, other times when I see one of them meeting with the Nullity Minister. It saddens me every time when those couples who looked and acted so much in love, and desired to dedicate their whole lives to one another in sacramental marriage; give up and quit. I feel I have an investment in each and every couple. I connect with them, and give my whole heart in the work God has called me to.

The work of marriage however, is the couple’s work to do together for the benefit of their own souls, their family, and for society. The work they do will effect generations for good or bad and ultimately the whole world. We see this lived out in today’s culture when parents don’t take seriously their duty to raise up responsible, moral, hard-working future citizens. Those children left to their own devices, can easily become everyone’s problem. Choosing themselves and their personal happiness over working things out with a spouse, can have a devastating effect as children are left in the debris of divorce.

As in every disagreement, there is her version, his version, and the truth. I hate it when I hear cruel accusations lobbed at their spouse. Was this the same couple who cuddled on the couch in my office as we talked about marriage? What happened? What changed, or rather, what finally came to the surface and reared its ugly head? How do two people so in love that they want to be together for life, give up on each other, “fall out of love,” or cheat on their spouse?

It is easy to quit on one another- that is what the world wants and that is exactly what Satan wants! Quitting is easy, staying married is hard. One man told me “if it is this hard, then it must not be love.”
Really? Exercising is hard. What would happen if we quit on that? Just look around to see the fruit of that life style. What about our jobs? They can get pretty demanding. Should we not work? Picking produce, fermenting grapes, stocking shelves, is a real pain in the back day in and day out. No one’s talking about giving up on wine.

Love does not quit, give up, walk out, or point fingers… or lie or choose every other thing including work, children, or friends, over the beloved. Marriage is the sign that God instituted to point most to His unconditional, irrevocable, faithful, exclusive love for each of us. It reflects Christ’s love for the Church. You know Christ, the One impaled on a tree, barely clinging to life, bloody, and bruised. Perhaps there is something to learn in that icon. Love hurts. It hurts like hell sometimes. St. Teresa of Calcutta wrote, “Love to be real, it must cost, it must hurt, it must empty us of self.”

And therein lies the problem, “ self.”

Love isn’t about you, your feelings, your happiness, or unlimited fun. Love is about other. Love is giving, and pouring out without cost, or measure, or return. The word is sacrificial, because not putting me first-hurts. It takes dying to self over and over, until it becomes natural, a habit honed over time. When husband and wife do that very thing, we see such a beautiful, attractive window into God’s marvelous love for us. We desperately need this kind of witness in our world. Married couples have the power to raise up, or warp, twist, pervert, or elevate, how humanity sees God, imitates love, and understands marriage.

Almost always the couple does not make dedicated time for each other, pray together, or practice their Catholic faith regularly through attending mass. There is critical importance in placing each other above all else, of making God, faith, and prayer, a part of your daily existence. After thirty-eight years I can assure you, without God, we would not have lasted long on our own.

I have nothing to lose by being frank in writing these things sent in love, and empowered by truth. I beg you, do whatever is necessary to remain true to the vows you both made in front of God. “For I hate divorce, says the Lord…” (Malachi 2:16). I too hate divorce with all my heart. It leaves everlasting devastation in its wake. It harms children, and grandchildren for generations. It poisons those around us, it poisons how humanity thinks about marriage and a lifelong commitment, and it poisons how people think and relate to God. I have read one hundred raw testimonials from adults whose parents divorced, and the negative consequence it had, and continues to have, on how they think, and interact with others. (Primal Loss-Miller)

With God’s help and the healing power of confession, anything is possible. We believe in the God of Miracles! There is a retreat called Retrouvaille for couples who find themselves in dire straits and who are willing to do whatever it takes to seek help. It means “rediscover”. It is Catholic, but any faith can attend. I know it saves marriages, even the most horrible and seemingly UN-savable marriages.

So if you ever really loved each other, and if you are willing to let God do what He does best, then I invite you to do this, because you both deserve it. It is not magic. Nothing will change if you both are not willing to trust, love, surrender, and do the hard work.

It’s all up to you whether you are a part of a miracle, or just another statistic.

Blessed Doughnuts

What is the deal with Catholics and doughnuts? I have memories of being bribed by doughnuts through much of my young and snarky life, to either behave in or attend extra masses. My father was successful at getting all five kids to join him at daily mass in the sacred summertime with simply a nod towards Winchell’s doughnut establishment. That sweet, fried, circular vision of yumminess was all the incentive we needed to get up early for over a month.

Sacrileges? Not at all. Any good parent realizes that you can catch more kids with doughnuts than with bagels, at least here in the west. Doughnuts have been used for decades to threaten, bribe, and otherwise make an unruly kid straighten up and think twice about messing around in God’s house. I overhear parents threatening their kids when they are walking into mass, “you better behave, or no doughnuts.” Hey, I’m not pointing any fingers, I used that for years myself.

Jesus used bread to get folks to hang around and listen to the good stuff on many occasions. Fryers just hadn’t been invented yet or I’m pretty sure he would have had doughnuts here and there, to mix it up a bit. Like after the Resurrection when Peter and boys had gone fishing and caught nothing. Jesus would have captured their attention mighty fast, if they saw him walking along the shore with that bright pink box in his hands. “It’s the Lord,” and I think he has doughnuts.

I don’t know if it is just a Catholic gimmick, “hey I gotta idea of how we can get more buns in the pews.” Or, perhaps a Christian hook or if all religions see the value in sweet endings. I suppose it’s harmless as long as we eventually grow up and out, of having to be encouraged with sugared O’s to spend time with the Lord.

We are a people who can nosh quiet happily on junk food for a long time and somehow feel satisfied. Mistaking the counterfeit for the real deal can be spiritually dangerous. No, I’m not suggesting that Catholics confuse doughnuts for the Eucharist. Gees!

In our parish we are undergoing renovations to the sanctuary. Additions include a life-sized Crucifix where there was once a Risen Jesus, and moving the Tabernacle from a side location “among the people” to its new home central to our worship, behind the altar.

Don’t worry, Jesus has a new gig hovering over the Baptismal Font.

Our recently appointed Pastor explained in great detail the catechetical reasons for the proposed changes back in January. He might have had less kickback had he suggested that a Ferris wheel be brought into the worship space. The emails and comments he received were truly unchristian and really unkind. I have to wonder how someone can come to mass, even with the hope of doughnuts after, and have such cruel and heartless words to say. As expected, our numbers are decreasing, because that is how American Catholics show their disproval; in the plate, and in the pew.

Some have shared with me their feelings of our church “going backward” or that they are “not being fed.”

Really?

It’s not, to the first, and impossible to the second! And I’m not talking about the doughnuts! Jesus shows up 100% of the time.

What I believe part of the problem may be, is a lack of good formation and the ability to recognize what is really happening at every mass. The critical nature of entering into the timeless beauty, where heaven meets earth, despite whether we like or dislike the music, the sermon, pews, parishioners, or the priest.  I wrote an article a few years back about lost opportunities in the homily for catechesis and formation. When did it stop being about the Lord and all about us?

When we grow up eating a lot of doughnuts we can get confused about the importance of the Real Presence versus presents. One might get us in the door, but it is the other where we encounter the Lord and He doesn’t come dressed in sprinkles. Plain, simple, and pure love for the receiving. An unquenchable, insatiable, desire fulfilled at every mass if we have our appetites and minds focused on the Real deal.

One round circle can change our lives, transform our hearts, and make us new. The other circle just makes us fat.

 

Down But Not Out

Yesterday I got the flu. I tried to ignore it, but like a thunderstorm, flus do not go away just because you ignore them, they actually pick up intensity. Last night I could no longer hold that storm at bay so I crashed in the way of taking to my bed.

Thunderous sounds emitting from my nose and mouth made sleep nearly impossible. Drugs, where are the drugs? I popped two green nighttime capsules and hoped they would calm the storm. They only took the edge off.

This morning, I looked and felt like something the cat dragged in, but somehow realized that there really was something to be grateful for in all this. Living in a first world country we often take much for granted; clean bed, private bathroom, easily accessible over the counter drugs, and wonderful fresh water to name a few. I can’t imagine living in Africa or some distant island as I tried to deal with this flu and its annoying symptoms. Would my option be to lay in the shade of some distant tree, hoping the wild animals would just leave me alone rather than making short work of me in the way of a meal? Clean abundant water would be scarce, sewer systems, over the counter relief maybe miles away in the big city.

In my home I can crawl into my bed and in the cool darkness rest in relative safety. I could fetch fresh cool water at any time, adjust the air conditioner as needed, and get some relief either by access to a local doctor or the many clinics that surround our home.

We are blessed in more ways than we can possibly imagine. It would serve us well to recognize our many, many blessings and thank God along the way.

Oh Holy Night

Oh light from on high, for us You came,

Shattering the darkness, our ignorance, and shame.

You came as Innocence, a babe in Virgin’s womb,

In poverty You entered, no place for humble child to room.

Angel choirs filled the night sky,

Mountains, valleys, with all creation sighed.

That we may approach Oh Divine, Majestic One,

Unafraid, filthy, and in need of Your love.

May I, on bended knee, beside hay-laden throne,

in hushed and awestruck tone,

Captivated, mesmerized, all alone,

Beg You, one day, take me home.

Stuffing the Pie

Thanksgiving-the National Vigil of Black Friday?

What? Wait. NO!!

Yes, I’m afraid we seem to have lost our way. This day, I thought was to stop, sit still, remember and be grateful. To surround ourselves with family and friends, you know those people that we are most grateful for in life. To celebrate the bountiful goodness that each one has brought into our life. To look to heaven and pray a blessing of gratitude to the One who holds all things in his hands.

When do we stop and contemplate the many, many ways that we have been blessed? Do we search each day for God’s abundant grace and blessings?

When we deliberately seek the blessings in everything, including the difficult and challenging, a wonderful thing happens, we change our outlook. More joy, more grace, and more wonder become a part of our everyday.

“Praise him for the unexpected and the unlikely, for the daily and the difficult, and the graces in disguise. The more you count, the more gifts you will see. Do not disdain the small. The moments add up, and we might come to believe it- the whole world is full of his glory!…” (Ann Voscamp, One Thousand Gifts)

Start NOW, don’t hesitate. Add your Blessing Comment, then pass this along for others to add theirs and together we will see that there really is more GOOD than bad in the world. Let our lights shine brighter together, so all can see that it really is not as gloomy as the media makes it to be.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!