When you’re down and troubled

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This morning I was reading Simcha Fisher at NCRegister. And I responded with this comment:

I hug my kids when they are hurt. But I also wait to see if they are actually hurt. They know my m.o. since often their response even through tears is “I’m okay.” They know I’m there for them, but want to be strong for me. I’ve parented with the hope that they can assess the situation themselves first. If they can. That said, I’m pretty keen on recognizing within a few seconds what kind of response from me is needed. And sometimes, coddling little boo-boos is the cure even if the bruise is one of embarrassment, hurt pride or being frightened instead of physically injured. But true loving occurs not as I rush to their aid or to their (at times over-) reaction to injury, but the solid loving that I give them all the rest of the time. Caring for the needs they don’t even know they have. Offering love and affection when they ask for it, when then don’t, and even when they tell you they don’t really want it at all. That’s the kind of undeserved, unearned love we get from God.

It got me thinking, I hope and pray that’s the kind of loving we can do our best to give everyone. In very simple terms, I’m pretty sure that’s the crux of the “love one another, as I have loved you” bit. And I know how I feel when I am called to love people who very specifically don’t want my love. But that’s when your loving is about Christ and them. And not about you. At all. I’m pretty sure that’s an element of the “emptying ourselves” bit.

Once again. God knows what’s going on. Happy All Saints Day. Prayers of thanksgiving for those saints known and unknown. Truly inspiring.

Arm yourself

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After having more than a few rotten days and serious consideration of putting my armor up for sale on ebay, a very tall and holy man suggested I read this prayer. Perfect. Just what I needed. (Well, after I really read it a few times.) I love the ways God works in our lives.

St. Patrick’s Breastplate

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today through God's strength to pilot me.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me:
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul.

Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.

Three years

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May 24.

Three years ago today, a dear, dear friend died. It’s hard to believe that much has time has passed. But then, at times, the memory feels so distant because of all the stuff of life that has occurred between then an now.

My thoughts went to her all day today. Her smile, her laugh. Her huge brown eyes. Her innocence and understanding. She knew she was a child of God. And I loved that.

I will cherish the time we spent planning vacation bible school the summer before she died.  I was 8.5 months pregnant. She had cancer. What a motley couple. We laughed hard and worked hard. After that, we talked every day, that is, until she lost her voice. An unnecessarily cruel side effect for a woman who loved to chat on the phone.

Her death brought so many to their knees. She was so young, so faithful and so alive.

I will forever hear her voice ring in my left ear saying, “God is good all the time. All the time, God is good.” She was right, you know.

Pray for me, Saint Danalee. XO

LORD, my heart is not proud; nor are my eyes haughty. I do not busy myself with great matters, with things too sublime for me. Rather, I have stilled my soul, hushed it like a weaned child. Like a weaned child on its mother’s lap, so is my soul within me. Israel, hope in the LORD, now and forever.

Psalm 131

Raising a saint

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Today when I was cleaning Clifford and Lillian’s room, I noticed the crucifix above Clifford’s crib was gone. The bare nail was exposed. I looked in the crib, under the crib. I was perplexed.

St. Lillian

I found Lillian and questioned her.

“Do you know where the cross with Jesus on it that hangs above Clifford’s crib is?”

She told me she had it.

When I asked her why she took Jesus down, she answered, “Because I just needed to hug him.”

Mother Mary comforts me

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I love the Blessed Mother. She is most certainly the main reason I am devoted to Christ and my Catholic faith today. At a time, many years ago, when I pondered if another church might better suit “someone like me,” she told me to stay home, to do what I had to do. Then she did what all good mothers do, she introduced me to her beloved son and I fell in love.

Little Lil loves the Blessed Mother, too.

Little Lil loves the Blessed Mother, too.

As a senior in high school, we were celebrating a retirement mass for the religious sister who was in charge of attendance and the bookstore. I was asked to read some of the Prayers of the Faithful. I was pleased, because in all four years at the school, I had never been asked to read. Then I learned that all the girls asked to read where those whose phone number Sister JT (as she was affectionately known) knew by heart because of attendance issues. Hmph.

I remember doing the reading. But more importantly, I remember the speech Sr. JT gave at the end of the mass. She sat up front and told us to always remember Our Lady. She urged us to turn to the Blessed Mother when we needed help, and she would be there for us. She, after all, was a woman, too. That advice was the most meaningful thing I learned about my faith in high school and from a woman who never taught me in a classroom and who I was usually trying to outrun in the hallway as I arrived late (yet again) for school.

There’s a great article about Mary and mercy at Faith & Family Live.

A lot of help in her little ways


Today is the feast day of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. She was the first saint that became real to me. st__therese_of_lisieux

I encountered her in New York City one day when making a regular visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. At every chance I could while a student at Hofstra, I would travel from Long Island into the city. Even though I was a heavily loaded full-time college student, I took acting classes at HB Studio in the Village. Depending on how my classes fell during the day, I would try to make a trip up to St. Patrick’s. Sometimes I would hightail it up to the cathedral from Penn Station (about 23 blocks), then take the subway all the way back downtown to the studio. It was always worth the time and worth the trip. A good walk and a great God, what could be better?

For a time during that period, there was a traveling display about St. Thérèse of Lisieux. On one long side of the cathedral were life-sized photographs of this beautiful, sweet young woman. Who, in those photographs, was the same age I was at the time. I could stand there and look right into the eyes of a saint. And although they were inanimate photographs, they beckoned me to learn more. And I did. She’s been my friend ever since. It wasn’t until relatively recently that I learned that as a girl my mom loved the sweet saintly Little Flower as she’s called. If you don’t know about her, I urge you to find out more. There’s a lovely movie about her life that is a family favorite around here. And here’s a nice article at today’s Faith & Family Live site.

St. Thérèse reminds me to find the joy in some of the minutia of the day. To remember that my troubles are small. My favorite quote is from her autobiography, The Story of a Soul.

And so it is in the world of souls, Jesus’ garden. He willed to create great souls comparable to lilies and roses, but he has created smaller ones and these must be content to be daisies or violets destined to give joy to God’s glances when He looks down at His feet. Perfection consists in doing His wil, in being what He wills us to be …

When I’m struggling with something that causes me grief or pain, and I have to fight to temper my own response, when God looks down at His feet, will he see me? Will I be a daisy, a violet? Frankly, sometimes, I’m a weed. Or worse a dandelion: a weed disguised as a flower. But by learning from those who have gone before like St. Thérèse and asking for their intersession, I’ll keep trying to grow and bloom.

Living the vocation of marriage

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This is an interview with the daughter of one of my favorite saints, Gianna Berretta Molla. There is a lovely book of St. Gianna’s letters called Love Letters to My Husband.


She was a doctor and mother of four. She died in 1962 not long after giving birth to her fourth child. She’s very relatable because she lived so close to our time and was a working woman and mother.