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‘May it be done to me according to your word’

AnnunciationAnd the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.

And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.”

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.  – Luke 1:35-38

Happy Feast of the Annunciation!

(Annunciation window in Lady Chapel of St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Delmar.)

Happiness and heartache on the confession line

I am one of those people who actually enjoys confession, hard as that may be for some to believe. It’s such an uplifting feeling, to bare you soul, receive absolution, and, as my confessor said this past week, “begin all over again.” And that’s the reality of it. Every time we leave confession, we leave as a new creation, in a sense, with nothing weighing us down or holding us back. Until we sin again, which we will inevitably do because we are human, and then we start the clearing and cleansing and healing process all over again. Read more

What is Church to you? My bishop’s thoughtful take

So often when Dennis and I are standing in front of our ninth-grade faith formation class, our goal is to not only teach our students the truths of our faith but to show them that the Church is more than its teachings, more than its buildings, more than what most of us imagine it to be.

For too many of us, Church becomes something belonging to someone else, a place we visit but don’t always choose to live. When we start to see Church not as a location but a state of heart and mind, that’s where transformation begins.

This past week Bishop Edward Scharfenberger of Albany had a great column that tackled that very subject in such a beautiful way. Read more

‘Broken, Beautiful, and Beloved’ retreat day May 9

I’ll be offering a one-day retreat at the Mariandale Retreat and Conference Center in Ossining, N.Y., this spring on my favorite topic these days: “Broken Beautiful, and Beloved: Learning to see ourselves through God’s eyes.” The day will include a talk, lunch, some quiet time, a chance to journal and/or try out collage as a form of prayer and contemplation, and group discussion. Here are the details from the website:  Read more

Irene’s Irish Soda Bread

Every year I run this post because so many people want my mother’s Irish Soda Bread recipe. Here it is again, in time for tomorrow’s breakfast in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.

Keep in mind that this bread must be slathered in butter. Not butter substitute, but real, artery-clogging butter. Enjoy! Read more

Latin Mass: I’m more Ordinary than I suspected

Latin Mass in the Extraordinary Form has been something I’ve always wanted to experience and assumed I would love. I am a Catholic who revels in the traditions and rituals of the faith. I love candles and stained glass, incense and statues. I attribute a lot of that to the fact that I was raised in what I like to call the “Era of the Collage.” By the time I got to CCD class, as it was known back then, tradition and catechism had gone out the window, only to be replaced with gluing and pasting pictures of a smiling Jesus and the word “love” on construction paper week after week. I hungered for the “bells and smells” of the past, something that was a staple in the faith of my family of origin. (My godfather still goes to weekly Latin Mass in Virginia, so this stuff is in my DNA.) Read more

Mindfulness: It’s not just for Buddhists

I was featured in a story on mindfulness that’s running in the Catholic Courier of Rochester this week, so I thought I would take a few minutes to talk about this favorite spiritual topic of mine. I said a lot more than was quoted in the piece (not unusual given newspaper word counts), which also featured a Trappist monk from the Abbey of the Genesee, one of my favorite retreat places. If you’re a long-time reader of this blog, you know that my journey into mindfulness (and sometimes back out of mindfulness when I’m getting sloppy or lazy) started with my “mindful oatmeal” practice from years ago and blossomed into two books related to the practice of mindfulness in daily prayer and daily life. With each step forward on this path, I become more convinced that this is the way to inner peace and a deeper relationship with God. And when I stray from that path everything becomes slightly out of balance and more frenetic.  Read more

In fear I faced the real question: “Why not me?”

I am typically a “Why me?” sort of person — when my computer crashes, when a recipe flops, when I come home from the store without the one thing I went there to get. So you can only imagine how I might kick that attitude up a notch when something significant is at stake. But last week, when my 18-year-old son, Noah, was facing the possibility of serious and permanent heart damage, when we had no control and no way to help him as we watched him suffer through painful attacks, the “Why me?” slowly started shifting to another place. Read more

Healing hearts, medical marvels, the power of prayer

It has been a long five days, and we thank all of you for being there with us. We believe with all our hearts that you made a difference — for Noah and for us. We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of prayers, love, and support we have received from family, friends, and complete strangers both close to home and around the world. I have been getting emails, text messages, Facebook messages, Twitter messages, and phone calls from people who want to pray and help in any way they can. So let me tell you a little bit of what happened to land my son, Noah, 18, in the Critical Care Unit at St. Peter’s Hospital earlier this week.  Read more

Prayers for my son, please – UPDATED

UPDATE (3/3/15): Noah’s MRI showed no damage to his heart valves or pumping function due to the inflammation in his heart (myocarditis). He still has a long way to go and is still in the Critical Care Unit, but this is a huge step forward in terms of his recovery. Please keep praying for him — and us. We can feel the prayers of so many people pouring over us. It has made this difficult journey much easier to face.
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