Cluster of wheat image Grapes and vines image Cluster of wheat image
June 12th, 2015



In the olden days, before people were so busy being entertained that they had no time to think, there was a sin called “covetousness.” Covetousness? Who knows what that means anymore? It has nothing to do with need and everything to do with want. We seem no longer to have the concept of enough.

We have to have an iPad, a smart phone, and a computer, all online at lightning speed. A cashmere sweater will not suffice; we need one in every color, with shoes to match.

Covetousness is intimate with the other capital sins, like pride. For some strange reason we are proud to have the best and the most. We are envious of those who have more and never content with all we need. Our palate is always seeking new taste sensations because we are surfeited by the abundance at the table which does not satisfy because we never sit down really hungry.

We grab and grasp and buy and accumulate with nary a care that we have too much and the other guy has too little! Isn’t it time to look at some of those old sins and see if they are at home in us?

Lord, have mercy on us. Help us once again to look inward and learn the meaning of sin, to look outward and learn the meaning of love.

December 7th, 2010


In 1858 a young girl in Lourdes, France, had a vision of a beautiful lady, dressed in white, with a blue sash and yellow roses at her feet, in a grotto near her home.  The girl’s  name was Bernadette and she was to see the lady eighteen times in all.   The lady told Bernadette to ask the parish  priest to build a chapel there but the priest said Bernadette needed to ask the lady’s name.   The lady’s reply?  I AM THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION!!!!

An awesome reply.   A stroke of genius!  Bernadette had no idea what it meant.  But it was a clincher.

The lady was thereby identified as Mary, the mother of Jesus, daughter of Anne and Joachim, who was conceived without stain of original sin  so that she might be  a holy tabernacle for the coming  Christ child.  The immaculate conception had been  defined as a dogma by the Catholic church (Pius IX) in 1854.

The lady told Bernadette she could not promise her happiness in this world, but in the next.

Is this whole story the stuff of delusion and mythology and poppycock?

There is now a beautiful chapel where there was none before.  There is a spring of water where there was none before.  Pilgrims continue to come by the thousands.  Physical healings are well documented.

Poppycock?  Investigate.  Let me know what you think.


My spirit rejoices in God my Savior,  for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed.  —  Luke 1:47-48

Hail, Mary, full of grace.  —  Luke 1:28

November 25th, 2010


Something is wrong with me. Tears are so close to the surface these days. Is it the  holiday, with the gatherings, and the remembrance of those who no longer gather? Is it the fact that beauty sometimes seems to break my heart?

This photo makes me cry.

These words make me cry.

So nigh is grandeur to our dust,
So near is God to man,
When Duty whispers low, Thou must,
The youth replies, I can.
— Emerson

Dutch Beauty

I tried to include here an extraordinarily beautiful Dutch PowerPoint but WordPress said it was too large to upload.   I’ll be happy to send it as an email attachment to anyone looking for a blessing.  Just request it in the comments and send it to people you love.  Or, thanks to my very clever son, just click on Dutch Beauty above and you can download the PowerPoint to your computer.

And speaking of extraordinary beauty, my face is wet with tears from having viewed today, for the first time, a little movie called St. Bernadette of Lourdes, produced by Navis Pictures and available from Ignatius Press.  It is written, produced and directed by one Jim Morlino, a member of my parish.  The actors are all local children, and it is, of course, about the apparitions of  Our Lady in Lourdes.  All I can say is that it is precious  and gorgeous and charming and moving and has the Holy Spirit all over it.  It would be the perfect Christmas gift for any  family with children – you will be astounded  at the quality of the production and the children will love, love, love it.  This movie is  an act of love and I cannot speak too highly of it.

Meet Jim Morlino

Where have all the children gone?

I guess what’s wrong with me is that I’m mourning – the loved ones gone, young lives cut short, buds not allowed to blossom, beauty unappreciated, and beauty appreciated.

This is a day for weeping and Thanksgiving.   God is, and all is well.


Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.  — Mark 10:14

October 5th, 2010


Saint Faustina Kowalska died on this date, October 5, in 1938.   This painting of Jesus, with the caption, Jesus, I trust in you, has been circulated worldwide through her efforts.

Many people, even if they are Catholic, are not familiar with Saint Faustina, visionary and mystic, who was born in Poland in 1905, the third of ten children. Just a few days ago I turned on the television in early morning and much to my surprise, on ABC no less, stumbled upon the end of a documentary about Sister Faustina. I had been to Poland in April, 2000, when Faustina was canonized and though I was familiar with most of her story I was impressed by the caliber of the miracles which had played a role in her canonization. When I learned that October 5, just a few days away, was the date of her death I decided to look into her further.

Born and canonized in this century, Faustina is indeed a saint in our time for our time. Rather than retell her story myself, below is the first of six videos, each less than ten minutes, describing how Helen Kowalska came to join the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. She received visions of Jesus in which she was told to have an image painted depicting his mercy which was to be venerated throughout the world.

Jesus died on the cross to bring us mercy. Still today, everyday, Jesus is dying to show us mercy. By sheer coincidence, I recently came upon a story by one Ringolds Klimons, a seminarian from Latvia,who needed a place to stay one night in Warsaw. This is how his story ends:

Here I can finish my story, for the next morning I was on my way back home. I do not know why the good Lord wanted me to stay that night in Warsaw. Because I was very tired, hungry and needed rest? Because of the man at whose apartment I spent the night and who had his doubts cleared through conversation with me? I do not know why – the Lord only knows. But the priest’s words proved to be true: when the Holy Spirit tells me stop, I have to stop; when the Spirit says go, I go. Later on I found out a curious fact from a religious magazine. When Sister Faustina received a call to the consecrated life, she went to Warsaw. The first church she found at random was the same church I also found at random.


God is love and mercy. — Saint Faustina

September 21st, 2010


I have written about miracles before. For those who believe there is nothing beyond this universe, no miracle is possible. But for those of us who believe God made the universe and authored its laws, we think it is possible for God to suspend those laws if he wishes. It is a good way to get attention and miracles were the “signs” used by Jesus and the apostles to witness to God.

Almost every year, on the 19th of September, in the Naples Cathedral, the dried blood of  St. Januarius (San Gennaro), a bishop who was beheaded in 305, becomes liquid. According to the  story some of his blood was collected after his death and is kept in an ampule.

There are numerous records on the liquefaction of the blood, dating from times before 1649 when they officially started recording this miracle. One of the descriptions of the procession dates from the year 1389. According to writings in 1528 the blood miracle didn’t take place. This was the year the pest broke out and Naples didn’t receive its raise from France.

There are hundreds of records of the liquefaction dating from the 16th Century.

This well-documented phenomenon is still regarded as unexplained by believers and sceptics alike. Noted parapsychologist Hans Bender defined it the paranormal phenomenon with the best and historical documentation; physicist Enrico Fermi seems to have expressed interest as well.

It is also one of the few recurrent non-medical, physical “miracles” that might be studied scientifically.



The liquefaction of the blood of St. Januarius to reported to have occurred once again.

Naples ItalySeptember 19th, 2010 – The precious vial was transported in a procession that took place from the Duomo to the Monastero di Santa Chiara, did not disappoint the expectations of thousands of tourists and believers alike and this morning at 9:43 the miracle of San Gennaro took place. It was Bishop Crescenzio Sepe to announce the liquefaction of the blood that as always is welcomed by the waving the white handkerchief.

June 17th, 2010


I started this post two Lents ago.  I hoped to publish it when my bad habit was gone.  That has not happened.  This morning at Mass I decided I should post it anyway, even though it is not a success story.   You are invited to pray for me.

Compulsions abound.  Many people have them and there are many different kinds.  Some folks suck their thumbs or bite their nails.  Some like things arranged super-orderly.  Some eat too much, drink too much, some binge and purge.  Some twist their hair and pull out their eyebrows. Some masturbate.  Some are kleptomaniacs and some are child molesters.  Some of these compulsions are more serious than others, less socially acceptable, more harmful to self and society.  One thing true about compulsions is that most people wish they didn’t  have them – but by now they are habitual.  They say, “I can’t help myself.”

Habits develop one fine gossamer strand at a time.  You do it once.  It somehow comforts you.  You do it again. And again. And again.  Soon the gossamer strand is a strong cable–the action becomes second nature.  When you are tired, or anxious, or bored, or lonely, you go there, almost “naturally.”

I’m an old lady and I’ve noticed that the older I get the longer it takes for little wounds to heal.  I do not seem to have the patience to wait for nature to take its course.  The mosquito bite that I’ve scratched until it bled would heal in due time but I will scratch it when I think the scab is “almost” ready to come off, and keep that up over and over again.  Every little protuberance on my epidermis annoys me and I’ll pick at it, actually making it worse rather than better.  Eventually I’ll develop what is essentially a callus, and I can peel off the top layer every now and then.  The blemish could have been gone in a month.  Now it will take six months, perhaps, for it to disappear, even if I never touch it again.  Once I had such a “hyperkeratosis” on my right hand which the dermatologist froze with his zapper, and I actually allowed it to heal.  But I found something else to pick at.  Once I had one on my left hand and when I broke my left wrist the cast covered it.  Six weeks later it was still there, just waiting for me, with a few little skin flakes on top.    I kept it going for a long time after that. If I had a raised mole anywhere on my body I suspect I would have  to have it surgically removed or I would scratch it off.  Once I pulled a wart out by its roots and it bled all over my white cashmere sweater.

I can admit I have a problem.  I have been picking at myself for years.   My fingers are familiar with every little bump on my body.  My mind tells me I should let God heal my little wounds in his time, in his way.  But I pick and pick and scratch and scratch.  I have a habit I don’t like.  I’ve tried replacing it with another habit.  I thought that saying the rosary would occupy my hands.  But my mind would wander and one hand would pick while the other fingered the beads.  I would ask God to take away my habit– presto, change-o.  No miracle was forthcoming.

Notice that all the compulsions I have listed  somehow involve the hands.  If we could just keep our hands still we would not do any of the things mentioned.  We know these actions are things we can control, if only a little bit, because we don’t do them in public. That is important – we still have a wee bit of control.  But not enough to stop entirely.

It is Ash Wednesday, 2009.  I am going to give up TV.  (When you think about it, watching TV can become a compulsion.  You just flick it on and it comforts, amuses, occupies you — takes your mind off yourself and your problems.)  And chocolate.  (Another “comfort food.”  How often have I thought “I need chocolate, do you have any chocolate?”  I can empathize with addicts of all kinds.  Fortunately, my fix is chocolate — so far.)

The third thing I wanted to give up was picking.    This was not as simple as turning off the TV for six weeks, or just not buying anything chocolate.  This was not a one-time choice that you make once and it’s done for all of Lent.   No, picking is a thing to be dealt with daily, or even numerous times a day.

This has been a long-ingrained habit.  I remember visiting with my grandmother-in-law when the kids were small.  She commented, “That child [meaning me] has done nothing but scratch since she’s been here.”  I wasn’t even conscious of it.  There’s a tactile thing going on that seems to be a tension reducer.  After all, the skin is our biggest sense organ and the skin arises from the ectoderm, as does the nervous system.  Why do we love massages? Someone fussing with our hair?  A back scratch?  I note that even seasoned performers on TV occasionally do a little nervous scratching, usually on an arm, because it is so handy.  The arm is  not itchy but somehow it needs scratching.

Why do I write about my picking habit, which hardly anyone knows about?  Because habits are hard, hard, hard to break.  It was not enough for me say a prayer that God would take away my habit.  I could not use my intelligence to find a solution on my own.  We need, of course, to take advantage of whatever helps we can.   Use whatever you can think of that might delay or prevent indulging in your particular habit.    With my picking, tiny spot Band-Aids are helpful. After I have shelled out several dollars for a box of little bandages I am less likely to tear one off to scratch something I really want to get rid of.

However,  I found it necessary to call upon God for help, not just once but rather minute by minute, to have any real self-control at all   And then, of course, it was not MY control – it was my little effort combined with God’s help.  Calling on God: “God, you are my help.  God, you are my help.  God, you are my help”  Over and over again, like a mantra.  I decided to keep on saying it until I fell asleep.

If my mind wandered, my fingers wandered.   As long as my mind was directed to God, my hands were still.  Than I noticed a remarkable thing.   I was no longer restraining hands that wanted to wander.  My hands didn’t even want to wander.  In fact, they felt heavy, and I felt peaceful, somewhat like the feeling when someone prays with me and I rest in the spirit.  I would feel my prayer had been heard and WE had some control.

Does my “solution” to bad habits sound too easy?  Am I saying that all you need to do is call on God and your bad habit will disappear?  Not at all.  Breaking a habit  is not an easy thing to do.  It requires repeated decisions.  It requires constant efforts of the will, repeated turning to God to ask for help.    It is not easy, but it is possible.  God is our ever present help in times of need.

It’s not as if calling on God for help is anything new!  It’s a time-honored remedy for many things.  Whether you have a scab you want to pick at, or a neighbor you want to pummel.  GOD IS OUR HELP.   We don’t need to go it alone.

My bad habit is one that is relatively easy to talk or write about. It is not expensive, life-threatening, or harmful to others.  It is hardly worth mentioning.     But I, who like to be in control, found myself with lack of control.  Perhaps God has let me struggle with this because it might help others with different bad habits.  Perhaps just one person in Brisbane or Beijing will read this post and find hope and help.

That was the way I wrote at the beginning of Lent.   I was sure that God and I would conquer this bad habit.   Now Pentecost approaches and it is time for full disclosure.   Yes,  my two favorite scratching spots are now just blips on my skin, almost unnoticeable.   I am still tempted to scratch at them but usually don’t.   Why?   Because I have started a NEW scratching spot.  I like having something to scratch at.  It gives me something to do.  It relieves tension and I am wired fidgety.

I know turning to God is the way to go.  Maybe if I had a habit that disfigured me or threatened my health I would have tried harder to get rid of it.   I would have leaned harder on God.  I do not have a success story to report but habits are known for their tenacity and relapse is usually part of the healing story. I never like to admit defeat but the failure is mine, not God’s.  It is true that God helps those who help themselves but, as Scripture says, when we are weak, he is strong.

The entire selection from 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 reads thus:

And to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated.  Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.  I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities, for when I am weak, the I am strong.

I should, therefore, thank God even when I am weak for it is a blessing in that it keeps me looking to him for strength.  Should I ever become whole and healed, I might forget where it all comes from, I might forget from whom comes my very breath.

Another blessing comes with my “thorn.”  It has given me enormous compassion for those who are trying to kick  bad habits.  I know from experience that they have a hard row to hoe – I pray for patience and perseverance for myself and them.


For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. — Romans 7.

Just because you got the monkey off your back, it doesn’t mean the circus has left town. — Anon.

May 27th, 2010


When a member of our prayer group, Ellen, gave the following prophecy in 1982, we thought it was from God. We paid heed, and started a vigil, and met for an hour for many, many nights at the homes of various members, praying for the body of Christ. Other prophecies followed this one, but hers started the whole thing.

We recently visited Ellen in a nursing home. She had had a stroke, some fractures,  was in a wheelchair and on oxygen. I brought her a copy of her prophecy  and she followed the words intently as we read it to her. Her first words as we finished reading it were, “Where did the words come from?” She confirmed again, as we knew in 1982, that those words just weren’t hers. Twenty-eight years later the words and the call are just as fresh and as urgent.

My body is dying, prepare a vigil
In weeping and mourning, come.
Is there any among you willing to die
That my body might live?
It is you, my people, who are killing my body –
It is you, my people, who have the power to restore it to wholeness.
Search your heart – Are you willing to die to self –
Your ego, ambitions, jealousies, sin?
Are you willing to begin to live a new life –
A life centered on me – putting aside any claims you think you have –
In perfect obedience to my will?

The road to Calvary is harsh, my people,
But it is the only road for my disciples.
Death awaits you as it did me at the end of the road.
I had to pass through death to come to resurrection, to victory.
Search deeply into your hearts –
Do you believe enough?  Love enough? Trust enough to enter the grave with Me, and dare to hope in resurrection?

Don’t make the mistake of jumping into this lightly, my people.
I ransomed you at the price of my own life,
in humiliation and suffering.

I am calling you to be people of Calvary, willing to suffer, willing to die to yourselves,
in atonement for your sins and those of the world.
The time of trial and tribulation is intensifying.
I need you, my people, to be a beacon of light in the darkness.
The only source of light is my love in you.
There is no room for my love as long as you are filled with self.
The victory is within your grasp if you are willing to pay the price and not count the cost.

My love will not fail you.

Come, my people, in weeping and mourning, return to me. Restore my body.

————January 19, 1982

I have written about prophecy before, in Words From God and How Does God Speak? Knowing people like Ellen and hearing words like these helps me to believe, as we say in the Nicene creed, that God “spoke through the prophets” and still does.

Prophecies such as Ellen’s are far from rare, occurring worldwide.  Here is an interesting site on prophecies.  

February 17th, 2010


Oprah says she prays and meditates every morning. Yet for Oprah as well as for most of her viewers a recent look into the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, was an eye-opener. This teaching order of sisters in Ann Arbor MI was founded in 1997 with four sisters by Sister Mary Samuel Handwerker and has grown to 98 sisters with an average age of 26. Sister Mary Samuel admitted she hadn’t seen the Oprah show before producers asked if they might visit the order. “We don’t watch television, unless it’s something special,” she said. “We accepted this invitation in the hope that the sisters would have an opportunity to educate the world on religious life.”

According to their website, “Our community was founded in the Dominican tradition, as a response to Pope John Paul II’s call for new religious foundations to embody the graces of the New Evangelization of the third millennium Church.”

Oprah’s film crew, headed by Lisa Ling, spent two days at the convent and Lisa was allowed to spend the night in one of their cells. They also flew Sister Mary Samuel and three other sisters to their Chicago studio to be interviewed by Oprah. When Lisa arrived at the monastery at 5:30 PM instead of finding the sisters at prayer she was surprised to find them playing cards and Scrabble! She soon learned, however, that their meals are eaten in silence and after 10 PM there is “absolutely no talking and everyone should be in her cell” according to Sister Joseph Andrew.

The entire Oprah program is available on YouTube in four segments:

Most of the many comments following this Oprah show were positive and this one is typical: “You allowed for the joy and simplicity of these remarkable women to shine through without any mockery or bias. Thank you sincerely for a beautiful piece on some amazing women.” I have to agree. In my opinion the faces of these women were the best possible advertisement for a life turned to God. It will be interesting to find out what the “oprah effect” has been on the convent after all this publicity
These past couple of days I have re-read the Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux – The Story of a Soul. The contrast between then and now is striking but the purpose is the same.    St. Therese, the Little Flower, the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, and Christians everywhere, especially at Lent, turn away from the world in varying degrees in order to know God better and serve him more wholeheartedly.

Today is Ash Wednesday. As I do each year, I will turn off the television for six weeks. This is a very small sacrifice as I will miss nothing of importance with my computer still up and online. I will miss only the repeated showings and endless rehashings of every news bit, and, most of all, the constant noise. I actually look forward to it. If we quiet the incoming traffic, let the fields lie fallow for awhile, who knows what seed may be planted that will sprout, grow, and bear fruit in the sunshine of God.

If you saw the program, what was your impression?


Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. — Isaiah 45:22

November 12th, 2009


How he loved the children!

AN IRISH Catholic bishop has predicted that Pope John Paul II, who arrived in Ireland 30 years ago today, will most likely have a higher status than sainthood in the Catholic Church. The Bishop of Meath, Most Rev Michael Smith, who was centrally involved in organising the papal visit, said he would not be surprised if Pope John Paul II was made a Doctor of the Church. This, he felt, would be due to the late pope’s teachings on human sexuality but more particularly those on the dignity of the human person.

Currently just 33 of the many thousands of saints in the Catholic Church are designated Doctors of the Church. These are men and women who have, as Bishop Smith said, “been identified as having made an extraordinary contribution to the teaching of the church and to the interpretation of the words of Christ, and to elaboration of the whole understanding of the church.” Among Doctors of the Church are St Augustine, St Thomas Aquinas, St Francis de Sales, St John of the Cross, St Anthony of Padua, St Teresa of Ávila, St Catherine of Siena and St Thérèse of Lisieux. As Bishop Smith explained, St Thérèse was elevated because she wrote “so deeply on God as love, a message we want to hear in our own country and didn’t hear enough in the past.”

He also suspected Pope Benedict might, in time, become a Doctor of the Church. “In this generation we are very blessed to have had two popes who have made an enormous contribution to church teaching and church belief.”   Patsy McGarry,  Religious Affairs Correspondent.  ( From the Irish Times, September 29, 2009 — see original).

November 7th, 2009


From the Hebrew fathers comes the oft-quoted phrase, “Cleanliness is next to godliness.”  But we Americans have gone the Hebrew fathers one better.  We have acquired, according to Dr. Robert Odenwald, Director of the Child Center and professor of psychiatry at Catholic University, a new fetish, “supercleanliness.”   Dr.  Odenwald described “supercleanliness” as “the number one compulsion in our American culture. . . which engages so much of a mother’s effort that she has no time to play with her children or to listen to their questions and fanciful stories.”

A certain amount or orderliness is necessary for the efficient running of a household.  Things can be so cluttered that it takes longer to find what you are looking for than it would to put things away.   A certain amount of cleanliness is necessary for health.  Though dermatologists claim some of us take too many baths, an occasional one is all to the good and we should still wash our hands before meals.   Food and dishes should be clean and the floor the baby creeps on needs regular washing.   But once the requirements for health and safety are satisfied, we are free to decide whether our free time should be devoted to things or to people.

Is it not possible that it may sometimes be more godly to be less clean?  Many a housewife has been convinced that she has failed as a homemaker if her home could not be truthful described as immaculate or spotless.  For such a woman it is truly an act of charity when she leaves the fingermarks on the woodwork in order to take the toddler out into the sunshine.

I have nothing against a clean house.  It is that extra polish that bothers me — the cleaning that serves no purpose other than to impress the neighbors.  When children are many and small, “supercleanliness” is purchased at the cost of crying babies, frayed nerves, children who are not allowed to invite their friends in and whose creative activities are limited to those which do not make a mess.  The parents never seem to have time to read a book, listen to music, or inform themselves on the voting issues.  I venture to say the cost is too high.

It might occasionally be in order for husbands to encourage their wives to forget the dust bunnies under the bed and try whooping it up a bit with the family.   The more children she has, the more necessary work there is to do,  the more a mother needs a bit of jollity.  As one mother put it, “My children are not going to remember whether the house was sparkling all the time, but whether we had fun.”

Dr. Ernest Osborne of Columbia University also thinks that we overdo neatness.  Says he, “In the United States we have made neatness and cleanliness almost moral virtues.  From the early years we stress their importance.  And, indeed, there is real satisfaction in seeing things neat and orderly.  But may we not overdo the job at times?

“Many adults have learned to be so ‘fussy’ about these things that they cannot tolerate standards of cleanliness and neatness that are not as high as theirs.  Irritation that may grow into quarreling between husbands and wives comes because one drops his clothes all over he place, leaves a ring in the bathtub, or is untidy somewhere else in the house.  Others make the family uncomfortable because they can’t sit still if everything is not ‘picked up.’

“Apparently these strong feelings develop because in childhood parents have become very emotional about developing habits of cleanliness and order.  Those who as children have been made uncomfortable and unhappy if everything was not kept spic and span tend to carry over the same feelings into adult life.  It’s more important in human relationships to be a comfortable sort of person with whom to live than to be a model of neatness.  We parents ought to check up once in a while and see whether we may not be overdoing this neatness business.”

So, polish the breakfront — if you can’t think of anything better to do.  That same time might be spent reading to your children, telling your husband you love him by preparing that special dish he is so fond of, writing a letter to a shut-in friend, or saying a rosary for your alcoholic cousin.  By resisting the temptation to become known as a “wonderful housekeeper,” you grow in two ways:  in humility (everyone knows how humiliating it is to be caught with a dull breakfront!) and in charity — for you have made the world a better, happier  place for your neighbor.  Sometimes to be less clean is to be more godly.