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Grace finds beauty in everything

“She carries a pearl
In perfect condition
What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stings

“Because Grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things

“Grace finds beauty
In everything

“Grace finds goodness
In everything.”  - U2, Grace

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Missing mom, 26 years later

Today is the 26th anniversary of my mother’s death from colon cancer. What I find most unusual this year is that the grief seems a little stronger — perhaps because of where I am in my life personally and spiritually — and yet I don’t feel compelled to write anything about her. I feel like I’ve said it all, which is saying something coming from me. I miss her. But I always miss her. And I find it unbelievable that it’s been 26 years since I heard her laugh, saw her smile, smelled the scent of her. Sigh. That’s enough. Here are some photos of my beautiful mother, who was my very best friend when she died. (I wrote about her recently HERE, if you’re interested.) Read more

Albany’s new bishop sets a warm, welcoming tone

Just a few words on yesterday’s ordination and installation of Bishop Edward Scharfenberger of Albany. It was a spectacular Mass, even from the distant and somewhat obstructed view of the spiritual equivalent of the cheap seats. We were in the farthest reaches of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, but that didn’t dampen the joyful spirit. The folks around us were a fun and chatty bunch, and we got to know them a bit seeing as we arrived 90 minutes early with our coveted tickets in order to get even one of those cheap seats. This was the place to be in Albany yesterday afternoon, and for good reason. The beautiful two and a half hour Mass was so filled with ancient ritual and uplifting words, song, and ceremony that it was impossible even for this sometimes-jaded 30-year veteran of the Catholic press not to be moved to tears.  Read more

Finding God amid the scaffolding and noise

I realized yesterday that I’m a bit like a homing pigeon when it comes to visiting New York. No matter where I am in Manhattan, I always end up back at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which is like home base for me. Back when I was a reporter for Catholic New York, I used to cover Cardinal John O’Connor’s Sunday Masses there with regularity, along with lots of other events, from the unusual (Andy Warhol’s memorial Mass complete with Liza Minelli and Grace Jones) to the the sublime (meeting Mother Teresa after a Mass marking the anniversary of Cardinal Terence Cooke’s death.) Read more

Italy 2014: Food-faith pilgrimage is filling up fast. Sign up today!

It’s hard to believe that in just about six months we’ll be departing for Rome on our 13-day food-faith pilgrimage, Italy: A Feast for Body and Soul. Since I last updated you, we’ve had an exciting development. In addition to a great group of people from throughout the New York-New Jersey region, with a few from more far-flung places, we will also have a priest traveling with us. My good friend Msgr. William Benwell, vicar general of the Diocese of Metuchen, N.J., has signed up as a pilgrimage participant but has agreed to say Mass every day for those who would like to attend. In addition, his knowledge of Siena, Assisi, and Rome is like getting an added spiritual bonus. We are blessed to have him coming along with us.  Read more

Have you hugged your colon today?

Once a year — usually during March, which is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month – I parade out a photo of my fine-looking colon to get your attention. (Yes, that is my actual colon above, as it appeared during my most recent colonoscopy, which was a little more than two years ago.) Read more

April 2 Connecticut event: “You Can’t Fail Lent”

“You Can’t Fail Lent: Learning to see these 40 days as  journey, not a test.” That’s what I’ll be talking about on Wednesday, April 2, when I head to Darien, Conn., to speak to the Women’s Circle of St. Thomas More Parish. The event, which is open to the public, includes a brunch and will be held at the beautiful Convent of St. Birgitta, 4 Runkenhage Road, Darien.

I’m especially looking forward to this event because I get to spend the night at the convent, which overlooks the inlets of the Long Island Sound. I’ll try to post some pictures and spiritual reflections once I’m back.

If you would like to attend the event, please call Patty at St. Thomas More Parish at 203-655-3303. Tickets for the brunch are $40 per person.


My breakup with Facebook. Why I hit “delete.”

Ever since joining Facebook a few years ago, I’ve been fairly addicted. Okay, super addicted. I loved my Facebook world. Too much. We definitely had a love-hate relationship, Facebook and I. Some sort of weird, dysfunctional co-dependency. I’d “deactivate” on occasion to give myself a brief respite from Facebook’s demand for more and more of my time and energy, but I’d always come back, usually sooner than I’d planned. I couldn’t stay away. Until this week, when I decided to leave Facebook for good. I didn’t just deactivate; I hit “delete,” which means I cut the ties completely. Read more

Pope Francis: Why He Leads the Way He Leads. And how you can learn to lead like him.

After Pope Francis recently shared the story of reaching into his confessor’s casket and stealing the cross off his Rosary beads, I sent my husband, Dennis, this email message: “Every time I think I can’t love this pope more, he says something crazy and ups the ante.” And that is absolutely the truth. From the moment Pope Francis stepped out onto the balcony, waved to the crowd and asked for a blessing, I knew – I think we all knew — this man was someone special. Almost every word and action after that has built on our initial hunch. I have often said that if ever I needed proof of the Holy Spirit alive and well in the Church today, the election of Pope Francis is it. Read more

Finding long-lost memories in a dresser drawer

My March “Life Lines” column running in the current issue of Catholic New York:

I decided to clean out some dresser drawers last weekend, and mixed in with the shirts I no longer wear and the silks scarves I forgot I had were little pieces of my past. Noah’s handprint in clay from when he was just a year old. A puffy foam heart necklace made by Chiara for a Mother’s Day gone by. Olivia’s old letters to Santa and one to the Tooth Fairy demanding to know what she does with all those teeth anyway. Read more