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Cowering in the brambles

Right about this time in the Easter season, I begin to slip into complacency. The enormity of the resurrection starts to seem “ordinary,” one more thing I take for granted. Yesterday’s readings provide the spiritual equivalent of cold water thrown in my face, which is exactly what I need. Read more

A house divided

My reflection today in the January issue of Give Us This Day:

If you’ve ever had a serious fight with your spouse or parent or child, you know the pain of a house divided. The silence or rage—depending on how you process anger—seeps into everything until even sitting at the kitchen table together sipping coffee becomes too much to bear. If you don’t heal the wound, it festers until permanent destruction and division sets in.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus cuts to the chase on that topic with what feels like the spiritual equivalent of cold water thrown in our face. We have to reconcile and unite, believe and follow the Spirit, or risk a house so divided it cannot stand. How appropriate that this message comes up on a day dedicated to prayer for the protection of unborn children, the plight of whom has divided houses—both State and private—for more than four decades.

St. Teresa of Calcutta once famously said that “the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion,” because if the most vulnerable among us are not safe, none of us are safe. If a mother does not feel secure enough to bring her baby into the world and in desperation chooses the unthinkable, none of us are secure, and the unthinkable becomes the acceptable.

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St. Mary Magdalene, pray for us

My reflection on the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene in the July issue of Give Us This Day:

St. Mary Magdalene has a feast! A new addition to the Church’s liturgical calendar as of only last year, our first reaction to the celebration might be, “What took them so long?” How is it possible that the “Apostle to the Apostles” was last in line when it came to official recognition of key witnesses to the resurrection? It’s a good question, because clearly Jesus Christ saw fit to put Mary Magdalene first. While the others were locked away in fear, she was at the tomb looking for the Lord, and she was not disappointed. Shocked? Certainly. Confused? At first. But disappointed? Never. Because she trusted in the Lord from day one and did not waver. Not once. Read more

Lighting the Advent wreath: just hit pause

My reflection on the Advent wreath, from the current issue of Give Us This Day:

Lighting the Advent wreath each night for prayers before dinner has long been my family’s tradition. The flickering candlelight growing brighter with each passing week mirrors the interplay of darkness and light we see outside our kitchen window at this time of year. There is something both haunting and comforting about a single flickering candle or two dancing against the velvety darkness. Our brief pause as we light a candle and offer a prayer opens up just enough space in our jam-packed lives to let the beauty of Advent edge its way into our souls. Read more

The only master that matters

My reflection from Give Us This Day today:

Truth and trust. I’m guessing that for most of us these two words stir up powerful emotions, whether close to the surface of our souls or buried deep within. Perhaps we still feel the sting of a trust that was betrayed, a truth that was twisted, leaving us devastated and permanently scarred. Or perhaps, just as painful but in a completely different way, we were on the other side of the equation, bringing damage and destruction to a relationship or even our own inner peace because of a sin or a weakness that caused us to choose omission over honesty, betrayal over loyalty, lies over truth. Read more

Confronted with Christ

My brief reflection from Give Us This Day earlier this week:

Whenever we take our children to Manhattan, we are confronted by the reality of “these least brothers” Jesus talks about in today’s Gospel. On subways and street corners they hold out battered cups in battered hands. Our kids look to us to gauge whether we should be doing something, and if not, why not? We tell them we can’t give to every street person. And even as we explain, we fight our own guilt over ignoring those with the least who live among those with the most.

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To Jesus through Mary, our star, our gate, our guide

My prayer reflection from the December issue of Give Us This Day:

Alma Redemptoris Mater – Sweet Mother of the Redeemer

Loving Mother of the Redeemer, gate of heaven, star of the sea, assist your people who have fallen yet strive to rise again. To the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator, yet remained a virgin after as before. You who received Gabriel’s joyful greeting, have pity on us poor sinners.

The vastness of God’s love can be hard to grasp on human terms. Yes, we know God’s love is boundless and eternal, but how can we possibly enter into that space and accept what is ours when it is so far beyond our comprehension? Where do we begin? To Jesus through Mary. We’ve heard those words again and again over the course of our spiritual lives. We’ve seen it marked in ink on letters and prayer cards, but have we made it our own? Do we look to our Blessed Mother as the point of entry into the endless and unconditional love that God pours out for us? Read more

Seething Anger or Boundless Love

My reflection in today’s Give Us This Day:

Jonah’s anger and attitude sound all too familiar. He is beside himself with frustration over what God has not done for him, his rage so intense he says he’d be better off dead. Even if we’ve never said it out loud, there’s a good chance we’ve felt that kind of desperation at some point in our lives. Read more

Give Us This Day: Always Room at the Table

My Gospel reflection from today’s Give Us This Day:

I come from a big Irish-Italian family, one where the food was always delicious and plentiful. On any given night, an entire extra family could show up for dinner at our house unannounced, and no one would go hungry. There would be chicken cutlets or pasta in abundance, and probably a batch of freshly made chocolate chip cookies. My mother wanted everyone to feel welcomed and loved. It didn’t matter whether you had an invitation, whether you were a close relative or the high school boyfriend of the resident teenager, whether you wanted a cup of tea or a three-course meal, she would smile and put out another place setting. Or five. Read more