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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

mariandale prayer space

On retreat: Finding beauty in our brokenness

I was so blessed to give a retreat day at Mariandale Retreat and Conference Center in Ossining, N.Y., this weekend. A beautiful location with wonderful people. And great food. With seashells scattered around the room and prayer intentions overflowing our sea-themed bowl, we dove into the topic of brokenness and discovered a wholeness there. At least that’s what we were aiming for. And we did “collage as prayer,” one of my favorite things to do these days. It seemed to be a hit among the retreat participants as well. There’s something about cutting and gluing in silence that is soothing and centering. And it always seems to lead to at least a smidgen of self-discovery. Read more


Finding time for prayer when you have no time at all

Despite our best intentions, finding a block of time to get down to the practice of prayer can be difficult — that is if we think of prayer only as a formal task that requires us to be on our knees, preferably in a church, reciting specific words. But prayer is a conversation with God, no matter what words we use or if we use any words at all.

Listen in at the link below for a conversation — and some tips — about prayer based on my book Everyday Divine, from my April 8 appearance on the Morning Air Show on Relevant Radio. I’m the first one up, so you don’t need to fast forward to find me. Just hit play.

pope confession

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

Photo by Mary DeTurris Poust

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

Robin in snow

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

Noah meds

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

Lenten pray post-it

Lent: How are you doing one week into the journey? Listen now for encouragement from yours truly

We’re one week into our season of Lent. How have you been doing with your plans to sacrifice more, give more, pray more? I have to admit, I’m doing just okay. I need a little more work in the prayer department, for sure. (My daughter gave me some encouragement by leaving this random Lenten Post-it note over my desk. Thanks, Liv!)

I talked about all of this over on the Morning Air Show on Relevant Radio this week. If you missed the show yesterday, you can listen here today. I’m up first, so you can just click play and my interview will come up right after the intro.

Lent 2015 meme

You Can’t Fail Lent: 5 tips learned the hard way

My Lenten post over at HuffPost Religion:

Lent is one of those seasons that always begins with the best of intentions and rapidly goes downhill, at least that’s how it usually plays out for me. I plan to pray more, eat less, and find creative ways to make my favorite time in the Church year more meaningful. Unfortunately, the ashes hardly have time to settle into the wrinkles on my forehead before I’m feeling like I’ve already failed.

But Lent is a journey, not a pass-fail test. Trust me, if it were at all possible to fail Lent, I would have long ago been expelled from this spiritual school. Fortunately, the goal here is not a perfect score at the end of 40 days. In fact, let’s throw out the word “goal” and focus instead on practice — spiritual practice.

Here are five tips for shifting your Lenten journey from total spiritual makeover to subtle interior transformation:

Read more HERE.