Cluster of wheat image Grapes and vines image Cluster of wheat image
June 8th, 2010


This year, on August 26, the date on which Mother Teresa would have been 100 years old, the U. S. Postal Service will be honoring her by issuing a commemorative stamp bearing her picture.  As a further tribute to Mother Teresa, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League wrote to the Empire  State Building Partners requesting that also on that date, August 26, the Empire State Building display the colors of Mother Teresa’s organization, the Missionaries of Charity, by shining blue, white and blue lights.

The decision to issue the stamp brought an immediate protest from the Freedom from Religion Foundation spokeswoman, Annie Laurie Gaylor,  who said it runs against Postal Service regulations.  “Mother Teresa is principally known as a religious figure who ran a religious institution. You can’t really separate her being a nun and being a Roman Catholic from everything she did,”  Gaylor told Fox News.   Nevertheless, in the past stamps have been issued in honor of Malcolm X, Father Flanagan, Martin Luther King.

And as a response to Donohue’s request that the Empire State Building display Mother Teresa’s colors, the request was denied without explanation.

Says Donohue:

Mother Teresa received 124 awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Medal of Freedom.  She build hundreds of orphanages, hospitals, hospices, health clinics, homeless shelters, youth shelters, and soup kitchens all over the world and is revered in India for her work.  She created the first hospice in Greenwich Village for AIDS patients.  Not surprisingly, she was voted the most admired woman in the world three years in a row in the mid-1990s.  But she is not good enough for the Empire State Building.

The Empire State Building has a website,, which will tell you what color the Empire State Building is today (in case you’re out of town or it’s daytime), and also  will tell you why.  For example, today, June 8, it is purple, blue and white, in honor of  United Nations World Oceans Day.   Last year on the 60th anniversary of the Chinese Communist revolution they honored Mao Zedong, perhaps the greatest mass murderer in history, by shining red and yellow lights.

Well!  Mao Zedong but not Mother Teresa?

We are petitioning Anthony Malkin, owner of the Empire State Building, to reverse their decision.  Write him at: Malkin Properties, One Grand Central Place, 60 E. 42nd Street, New York NY 10165.  When CBS reporters sought to interview Malkin they were escorted out of the building.

The Catholic League plans a demonstration outside of the Empire State Building  on August 26 to protest this obvious  discrimination against a world-renowned humanitarian  because of her religion.

November 9th, 2009


I’m 86, I just got back from a Natural Family Planning course, and here I am, all excited all over again! I am, perhaps, not in the usual NFP demographic, but I never cease to be amazed at the wonders of the human body and I’ve been writing about the efficacy of NFP for years now.

I am also totally amazed that supposedly intelligent people, all green and natural, with their filtered water, their organic veggies, and their free ranging chickens, are willing to pollute their one and only body rather than – God forbid – abstain from sex every now and then. There is just no end to the variety of non-biological carcinogenic steroids that they are willing to ingest, insert, or apply as rings, things, pills and patches, rather than learn to understand their bodies and behave rationally.

Quite conveniently I have come across an old article of mine with a September, 1993, quote from the British Medical Journal authored by Dr. R.E.J. Ryder, Department of Endocrinology, Dudley Road Hospital in Birmingham, England. In it Dr. Ryder says that the Catholic church offers and approves a method of birth control which is “cheap, effective, without side-effects…and may be the family planning method of choice for the Third World.”   His article provoked “unprecedented debate” in Great Britain and there was “enormous resistance” to its publication.

Dr. Ryder repeated the well-known facts that a woman’s egg has a lifespan of about 24 hours and is fertilizable for only part of that time. The sperm, however, may remain viable from four to seven days. “Thus a woman is potentially fertile for no more than six to eight days of her cycle, probably less in most cases.” Hormonal studies as well as ultrasound studies have confirmed that the clinical observations of changes in cervical mucus and body temperature as taught in Natural Family Planning can accurately identify the time of ovulation. He cited a World Health Organization study of 869 women of proven fertility in five centers (Auckland, Bangalore, Dublin, Manila, and San Miguel, El Salvador) showing that regardless of culture and education 93% of the women —  even those who were illiterate — could recognize the mucus symptoms. “The probability of conception from intercourse outside the period of fertility defined by cervical mucus observation was 0.0004.”

Another study of 19,843 poor women of Calcutta found a failure rate for Natural Family Planning similar to that of the combined contraceptive pill (less than 2%). In closing his article Dr. Ryder wrote: “There is no doubt that it would be more efficient for the ongoing world debate on overpopulation, resources, environment, poverty and health to be conducted against a background of truth rather than fallacy. It is therefore important that the misconception that Catholicism is synonymous with ineffective birth control is laid to rest.”

One has only to Google any contraceptive medication to learn about their myriad complications and side-effects and realize they are all harmful to normal female functioning. (Dr. Herbert Ratner has called it chemical warfare against women!) A woman on the Pill can be a paying customer for 30 years.   Doctor, pharmacist, and drug company all profit all that time. Unfortunately, nature has no lobby.

I went to this NFP meeting because I had heard that nowadays the NFP people have a new “one rule” which makes it easier to determine a woman’s fertile and infertile periods. Yes, there are still charts to keep (at least until you are well acquainted with how your particular body functions), temperatures to take, and mucus and cervical signs to record. The new rule is more about looking at the whole picture rather than any particular bodily indicator. For particulars, two resource sites might be helpful.

I was particularly intrigued by the wonders of cervical mucus. Who would have known? It turns out that there are various kinds of cervical mucus at various times during a woman’s cycle, some dense and unwelcoming, but there is a “slippery and stretchy mucus,” resembling raw egg white, in which the sperm can live for 2 to 3 days while waiting for a fertilized egg to arrive. Microscopically, it forms string-like channels and provides transport (‘swimming lanes’) for sperm cells. It produces a “wet, lubricative sensation at the vulva.”

I have read that the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Teresa’s order) have been able to teach effective natural birth control in India relying primarily on the mucus factor. As I recall, the instruction went something like this: Moisture makes babies grow; dryness prevents growth. (I don’t remember the exact words, but you get the idea.)  There has been  no more ardent advocate for natural family planning than Mother Teresa.

Who would think I would one  day write a blog post on the marvels of mucus?  Swimming channels for sperm in women’s cervical mucus!  How much more accommodating could we get?

Surely, we are fearfully and wonderfully made!


One of the most demanding things for me is travelling everywhere – and with publicity. I have said to Jesus that if I don’t go to heaven for anything else, I will be going to heaven for all the travelling with all the publicity, because it has purified me and sacrificed me and made me really ready to go to heaven. – Mother Teresa

April 20th, 2009


Having already read five or six books about Mother Teresa, when I was offered Mother Teresa’s Secret Fire by Joseph Langford, M. C., I accepted it but doubted that I was going to learn anything new.  How wrong I was!  This is a marvelous book, abounding in insights into Mother Teresa and her prayer life.

Father Joseph Langford is the priest who founded with Mother Teresa the Missionaries of Charity Fathers.  Thirty years ago (1979) Mother won the Nobel Peace prize.  Before that, in 1972, Father Langford first “met” her when he chanced upon a book in a bookstore near St. Peter’s Square.  The picture of Mother on the cover of Something Beautiful for God by Malcolm Muggeridge drew him into a personal quest.  “Who was this woman?  How had she managed, in an instant, to touch the deepest part of me?  How had she suddenly brought me to the end of a lifelong search, when I wasn’t even aware that I was searching?”

From that time on Father Langford made it his business to learn as much as he could about Mother Teresa’s life, especially about her transforming encounter with Jesus on the train to Darjeeling (September 10, 1946) when Jesus  gave her the “call within a call” that caused her to leave the convent and start picking up people in the streets of Calcutta.  Father Langford was also especially intrigued by the signs Mother posted in the chapels in all her houses reading, “I thirst.”  What did these words mean to Mother Teresa?  What do they mean to us?

Following the great grace Mother received on the train, she also received in 1946 and 1947 a series of internal communications and tableaus showing her the poor and their neediness.   As Jesus explained to Mother, “They don’t know me — so they don’t want me.”   The poor, of course, were not only in Calcutta but in our modern society that does not know God. Mother Teresa was to show them God’s light.   However, anyone who has read the recent book Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, by Father Kolodiejchuk, knows about the long, long years of spiritual darkness she herself suffered once her visitations by Jesus ceased.   Yet, as Jesus did not come down from the cross, “Mother Teresa never sought respite or escape – only the means to continue.”   “Her dark night was a school of the spirit, where she learned to cling to God even in her pain – all the while serving the pain of others, rather than being lost in her own.”

Mother Teresa chose to be poor herself, rising at 4:40 AM, with fasting and penances in order to share the plight of the poor.  She slept on a hard prison bed, with no fan, in a tiny room which was both sleeping space and office.  She had a table and stool for furnishing, without radio or TV.  She taught that silence was necessary for the prayer of the heart in which we can open ourselves to God.

Mother  recorded a conversation with Jesus following the life-changing event on the train.  She told him how sinful and weak she was, how afraid she was of suffering, how much she loved comfort.  She reports Jesus as saying: “You are I know the most incapable person – weak and sinful, but just because you are that – I want to use you for My glory.  Will thou refuse?”

She answered Christ’s question with her life.  In Father Kolodiejchuk’s recent book, mentioned above, it is said that when Mother was dying in the hospital she was overheard to say, “Jesus, I never refused you anything.”

God’s love for us is unconditional.  Our bad behavior does not cause him to love us less.  The “hound of heaven” is always seeking after us.  He always thirsts for our love.  “The only thing God ‘hates’ is sin (never the sinner); and that, too, is entirely out of love – as a grieving mother “hates” the cancer eating away at her dying child.”

I have often wondered how the God who is infinite and unchanging can be described as tender, compassionate,  longing, thirsting, or grieved.  Father Langford’s explanation goes thus:

There is something essential to the nature of love – and therefore to the nature of God – that makes the lover vulnerable to the one loved, not out of need or lack, but out of free and sovereign choice.  A mother does not “need” her newborn child in any essential way, but by her freely chosen love she makes herself vulnerable to the child, to his needs, to his pain, to his love.  Love and vulnerability, love and sensitivity, go hand in hand ….. Mother Teresa taught insistently the importance and significance of our poor human love to the heart of God – that God not only welcomes our love but yearns to be loved by us…In the words of St. Augustine, ‘Deus sitit sitiri” (God thirsts to be thirsted for.)

It is never too late to for God to use us.  I’ve been blogging for a year now and  I’ll admit to being somewhat surprised to find myself, an old lady, thinking maybe this is what God wants me to do for the time being.  As Fr. Langford writes:

When [Mother Teresa] first stepped out alone into the slums, leaving behind her familiar existence, she was almost forty years old.  Later, she would launch a pioneering network of AIDS shelters at the age of seventy.  And by the time our community of priests was approved, she was already eighty-two.

What does Jesus’ thirst mean to us?  “God is waiting for us; God is longing for us.   God is ‘lonely’ for us.  But remember, God waits for us in those who are helpless; God longs for us in those who seek for comfort; God is lonely for us in every human heart.”

Father Langford says writing this book was an effort to pay forward all that Mother Teresa gave to him.   He has included three beautiful meditations in the book as well as four appendices with quotes from Mother Teresa, Scripture, and other spiritual writers.  If I had  to choose only one book about Mother Teresa, this would be the one.

It’s all here.  This book contains the secret to becoming the saint that God calls you to be.


If anyone thirst, let him come to me and drink. – John 7:37

Be holy.  Holiness is the easiest way to satiate Jesus’ thirst – His for you and yours for Him. — Mother Teresa

Yesterday has gone; tomorrow has not yet come.  We have only today.  Let us begin.  – Mother Teresa.

December 14th, 2008


I’ve never been a devotee of Padre Pio.  Of course, I’ve heard of him; you can hardly be a Catholic and not have heard of Padre Pio.  But I ordered the new book Words of Light: Inspiration from the Letters of Padre Pio as a Christmas gift for a Franciscan friend and have just finished reading it.

It is compiled and introduced by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa and published (2008) by Paraclete Press.  Father Cantalamessa, also a Franciscan priest, is known as the preacher to the Pope, and you don’t get much more theologically august and respectable than that. Much has been written about Padre Pio but in this book, drawn from his letters, he finally gets to speak for himself.

I thought I might give a thumbnail sketch of Padre Pio for those not familiar with him, beginning with:  Born Francesco Forgione in Pietrelcina, Italy, 1887. Died 1968.  Canonized 2002.  Feast Day September 23.  Then I realized that a thumbnail sketch of Padre Pio is just not possible.  There are so many facets to his life – his joining the Capuchins at a young age, his many health problems, his gifts including the reading of souls, healings, the stigmata, his good works, diabolical attacks, his problems with the church, and on and on.  Wikipedia seems to me to present a pretty comprehensive overview.

I will content myself with the following description written by Padre Pio to his spiritual advisor, Padre Benedetto, about how he received the stigmata — and then a few comments on the new book.

On the morning of the 20th of last month [September, 1918], in the choir, after I had celebrated Mass, I yielded to a drowsiness similar to a sweet sleep. All the internal and external senses and even the very faculties of my soul were immersed in indescribable stillness. Absolute silence surrounded and invaded me. I was suddenly filled with great peace and abandonment which effaced everything else and caused a lull in the turmoil. All this happened in a flash.

While this was taking place, I saw before me a mysterious person similar to the one I had seen on the evening of 5 August. The only difference was that his hands and feet and side were dripping blood. The sight terrified me and what I felt at that moment is indescribable. I thought I should die and really should have died if the Lord had not intervened and strengthened my heart which was about to burst out of my chest.

The vision disappeared and I became aware that my hands, feet and side were dripping blood.  Imagine the agony I experienced and continue to experience almost every day. The heart wound bleeds continually, especially from Thursday evening until Saturday. Dear Father, I am dying of pain because of the wounds and the resulting embarrassment I feel in my soul. I am afraid I shall bleed to death if the Lord does not hear my heartfelt supplication to relieve me of this condition.  Will Jesus, who is so good, grant me this grace? Will he at least free me from the embarrassment  caused by these outward signs? I will raise my voice and will not stop imploring him until in his mercy he takes away, not the wound or the pain, which is impossible since I wish to be inebriated with pain, but these outward signs which cause me such embarrassment and unbearable humiliation. (Letters 1, No. 511).

Padre Pio bore the wounds of Jesus on his hands, feet, and side for 50 years.  Several days before he died in 1968, the wounds of the stigmata disappeared without leaving a single scar.

The excerpts in Words of Light are drawn primarily from Padre Pio’s letters.  He describes his prayer thus:

As soon as I set myself to pray, I immediately feel as if my heart has been engulfed by the flame of a living love.  That flame has nothing to do with any flame in the world here below.  It is a delicate and sweet flame that gives no pain.  It is so sweet and so delicious that the spirit finds a great satisfaction in it, and remains satisfied by it in such a way that it does not lose the desire for it.

But all is not sweetness and consolation:

God remains hidden from the attentive spirit that burns itself up keeping watch for him, that is compelled to seek for him, though the task is exhausting.  Finding itself alone in a desolate solitude the poor spirit goes on consuming itself through the many fears of offending him since it is alone with its ardent character, alone with inner and outer vexations; alone with its natural corruption; alone with the trials of the enemy.  My God, where are you?  I do not know you anymore nor can I find you; but this searching for you is a necessity……

He is attacked by evil spirits:

Padre Pio complained to his guardian angel about the attacks of those “impure apostates.”  His angel said, ‘Give thanks to Jesus that he treats you as one chosen to follow him closely up the steep slope of Calvary.  I see, soul entrusted to my care by Jesus, with joy and emotion inside me, Jesus’ conduct toward you…..    Jesus permits the devil these assaults so that your devotion might make you dear to him, and he wants you to become like him during the anguish in the desert, the garden and the cross…… when your strength is of no use, do not worry, delight of my heart.  I am close to you.’

Whether experiencing  sweetness or desolation, Padre Pio says “I felt the need to offer myself to the Lord as a victim.”

I am prepared to be deprived forever of the sweetness that Jesus makes me experience, I am ready to suffer Jesus’ hiding his beautiful eyes from me, as long as he doesn’t hide his love, which would kill me.  But to be deprived of suffering, I am not able, I do not have the strength.

As the  recent publication of Mother Teresa’s letters disclosed her long interior suffering while living a life of obvious holiness and worldly recognition, so Padre Pio’s letters give insight into the trials of sanctity.  Mother Teresa toward the end of her life was overheard to say, “Jesus, I never refused you anything.”  Padre Pio’s response to whatever came his way was, “But fiat, I repeat always; and I long for nothing other than the fulfillment of this fiat in exactly the way the Lord requests – with generosity and strength.”  “Without reservation.”

Years ago I read that on the road to sanctity one first endures suffering, then accepts it, then embraces it.   This challenged me as I only endured suffering when there was no other option.  Obviously we are not all cut out to be Mother Teresas or Padre Pios.  Perhaps there are gentler ways to God with a lesser cross and a lesser crown?   To willingly embrace suffering in reparation for the sins of mankind must take a Christ-like love and a Christ-like courage.

Perhaps, like The Little Flower, St. Thérèse, who was content to be the smallest little white flower if it pleased God,  it is best to go along whatever path God puts us on.   Here I am, at 85, and not really into suffering. (That is not to say there may not be an opportunity.)  It might be a good idea to leave it up to God and trust that each person’s cross will be exactly the right size for them.

Or heed Padre Pio’s advice: Pray, hope, and don’t worry!


Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  Matthew 16:24

I rejoice in my sufferings, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ. – Colossians 1:24

June 11th, 2008


Warming up my car, getting ready for 7 AM mass, I flicked on the radio. Hearing something about football, which was unacceptable, I flicked it off again. “I should pray,” I thought. . Now I had been awake for hours. I had checked the weather on the computer so I’d know what to wear. Checked my e-mail. Made my bed. Had egg and coffee for breakfast. Washed my dishes. Got dressed. Not a word to God.

“I’m sorry, God,” I said. “You know, I’d talk to you more if you were more interactive.” I imagined God talking back. “What would you want me to say?” he asks. I looked at the dawnlight in the eastern sky. The bare trees against the morning glow. I think of Joyce Kilmer saying “Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.” Now I’ve never thought of Kilmer as a major poet, rather more in the Longfellow category. There is no wondering about what his poems mean. Every line is crystal clear. And they rhyme. Who rhymes nowadays?

Yes, Joyce, the trees remind you and me of God. The dawn sky is beautiful. I, among others, have long appreciated the beauty of the earth. And the universe. And the universe within the smallest cell of my body. The wonder of DNA, that tiny speck that directs the growth and development of a human being, or a sweet pea, or a rattlesnake, each with its own specific directions. There is no way, in my opinion, that this could have happened by accident. I find God in his creation.

I have never had a dialogue with Jesus. Like Sister Faustina did when Jesus Read the rest of this entry »

May 25th, 2008


Another grandson has graduated! This one became a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration a couple of days ago at Southern Connecticut State University. It was a bright sunny day and Danny got quite a sunburn sitting for those hours on the bleachers. His other grandmother and I found that such events can require a really long exhausting walk from car to bleachers. We did learn that they had a station to help those with disabilities and they found us seats without our having to negotiate the steps of the bleachers. We also learned about the shuttle which was a blessing in getting back to our car. Read the rest of this entry »