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Give your Valentine more than flowers and chocolate

So everyone is talking about romance and love as Valentine’s Day approaches, but what about the other 364 days a year? Are we making time for romance — or at least the occasional night out without the kids — in our marriage on a regular basis? In honor of this holiday (which I don’t particularly like, by the way), here’s a column I wrote in the spring (obvious by the fact that there is no picnicking in Albany at this time of year!). It seemed like a good day to share it again. Here you go. And Happy Valentine’s Day!

Prescription for a better marriage? Start dating.

About eight or nine years ago, my aunt gave me a lovely picnic basket backpack, complete with cloth napkins, plastic wine glasses, everything you’d need for a romantic al fresco meal in a park or on a beach. And every year since then I have considered donating it to a school garage sale because, quite frankly, romantic picnics just weren’t on our “to do” list.

But something stopped me from throwing that backpack into the Hefty bags along with old puzzles and board games bound for the bargain bin. I had a tiny glimmer of hope that some day we would dust off that backpack and take it for a spin. Read more

The soul finds what the soul needs

I always say that every book I write, every retreat I lead, every workshop I present takes me to the next place I need to go on my spiritual journey. I never seem to realize that going in because I’m a little thick, and God needs to get my attention, and not always subtly. But I recognize it in hindsight, so I guess that’s something. Read more

Surprise! It’s Pope Francis. Yeah, that happens.

Pope Francis makes an impromptu visit to an immigrant settlement on the outskirts of Rome. This video is so beautiful it made me cry. Read more

Day one of a virtual retreat for couples. Join us!

It’s not too late! If you start right now, you and your spouse can participate in a virtual seven-day marriage retreat that will take you right up to Valentine’s Day. Well, technically it will take you to Friday the 13th, but let’s not go there. Read more

Wisdom Wednesday: Putting back the pieces

Some food for thought on this Wisdom Wednesday from Everyday Sacred: A Woman’s Journey Homea beautiful book by potter and author Sue Bender. Not surprisingly, it’s about brokenness, my favorite topic of late: Read more

I’ve got white candles and I’m not afraid to use them

In these parts, throat blessings are hard to come by. No, make that near impossible. It’s just not done. At least not at our parish. So years ago I took it upon myself to do the blessings. And, yes, that’s allowed. The first time I blessed throats for my class of fourth-grade faith formation students, they looked at me in fear and asked if I was going to light those candles before holding them up to their throats. Ah, how sad that these kids don’t know some of the more interesting traditions of our faith. But once I told them about St. Blaise, a bishop and martyr who is said to have healed a boy who was choking on a fish bone, they were all in, and eagerly so. Read more

Start talking: Real communication in a virtual world

Put your hands up and step away from the screen. That’s the Cliff Notes version of Pope Francis’ message for World Communications Day. Okay, I may be taking some liberties, but that’s definitely the general idea, and I couldn’t agree more, even if I am terribly addicted to all of my various screens.

The pope’s message and related comments from Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, are spot on, and I’m not just saying that because they affirm what I wrote in my book Walking Together: Discovering the Catholic Tradition of Spiritual Friendship or in numerous columns and articles on parenting, marriage, and life in general. Read more

Some advice never gets old

Whenever I give my retreat talk titled “Broken, Beautiful, and Beloved: Learning to See Ourselves through God’s Eyes” (last weekend, for example), I quote St. Francis de Sales twice. Actually, I quote St. Francis de Sales a lot in my life — in posts, in books, in columns, in workshops, but in this particular talk I quote him twice. This 17th century bishop had so much to say that remains incredibly relevant to our 21st century lives. Read more

Wisdom Wednesday: You know how to be brave

The song “Colours” by Margo Rey has been a favorite on my iTunes play list for quite a while now, but last weekend’s Christian Mothers’ Retreat in Syracuse was the first time I wove the song into one of my presentations. It was a hit, as I guessed it would be. Quite a few women came up to me after my talk and asked for the song’s title and artist. I knew it would tie in perfectly with a religious retreat despite the fact that it is a secular song because it speaks to the heart and to something I think so many women confront in their lives: learning to love themselves for who they are and to step into their own skin once and for all and be brave, no matter what may or may not be going on in the background or center stage of their lives, no matter how they think they’ve failed, no matter what the outside world pushes them to be. Read more

Manic Monday: Oh, wait. It’s Twisted Tuesday.

Headline says it all. It’s going to be one of THOSE weeks. Between my out-of-town travel for a weekend retreat and the holiday for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I am totally thrown off. I’d like to put out a blanket apology for any appointments or events I miss today — or this week — because it’s going to happen. I will be one day off until next Monday. So here’s how things stand on this Twisted Tuesday. Read more