About Loretta Pehanich
Loretta Pehanich is a spiritual director and author of Fleeting Moments: Praying When You Are Too Busy. Steeped in Ignatian spirituality, she has more than 20 years of experience in ministry, including retreat work and small group leadership. Loretta currently works as a fundraiser in the Sacramento area. She and her husband have four children and eight grandchildren.

Extraordinary Moments in Ordinary Time

I watched the five-year-old children in swimsuits step gingerly up to the font. Climbing the two stairs up seemed pretty easy, but every one of them waited before taking two steps down. What was their hesitation? Every eye in the packed church was focused on the font as the four children waited their turns. Excitement was building among the assembly, as if each of us was willing the children to step forward. We held a […]

Grateful for Anything—Except Dirty Looks

Driving home from work, I regularly see panhandlers standing at the freeway off-ramp. I hesitate to find Christ in them or give them money. For one thing, it’s a dangerous place to stand. I’m suspicious about how my money will be spent. It could be a scam. Plus I do plenty of other charitable works. Most days it’s someone different. But there’s one “regular,” a young man with varying cardboard signs. Guilt used to fill […]

What Happened in the Tomb?

Did you ever wonder what exactly happened in the tomb after Jesus was buried? The mystery of Jesus fully human and fully divine tangles my brain like a shroud; I can’t get my mind wrapped around it. I’m puzzled by the few details the Gospels provide after the Resurrection. We’re told that the disciples found “the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place […]

Your Rod and Your Staff

I love the 23rd Psalm. And lately, I’ve been thinking a great deal about the verse mentioning the rod and the staff. I see myself as this well-fed and comfortable sheep, and then I feel a gentle prodding. It’s that Shepherd again, inviting me to move along. Why? I’d fallen into self-absorption, thinking about my problems and having a little pity party. One translation says, “with your rod and your staff you give me comfort.” […]

The Consequences of Seeing

This story is inspired by John 9:1–41, the healing of the man born blind, and Mark 10:46–52, the healing of Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus and I talked about it. His healing was immediate. Not mine. I must have looked like a fool stumbling down the road, mud on my eyes. “What was the first thing you saw?” I asked Bartimaeus. “The face of Jesus. You?” “My own reflection in the pool.” As we sat looking—just looking—at the […]

Following Jesus into the Desert

After my baptism, I returned daily to the river and watched. When John said, “Behold the Lamb of God,” we applauded. Some danced. Some jumped into the water and splashed each other like children. People were so busy celebrating that they didn’t notice Jesus head toward the desert. I wondered why he left and followed. He walked for an hour and then stopped. I stayed back, hesitant to disturb him. He stood still, eyes closed, […]

Holy Incident Was No Accident

It was the kind of day when everything was going wrong. I could recite a litany of all the mishaps and disasters. I knew I needed a lifeline by 10 a.m., so I phoned a friend, my sister, who is a Daughter of Charity and a powerful pray-er. I had just shared (spilled) coffee with someone in a failed work meeting, so I sat in my car in the Starbucks parking lot as Sister Julie […]

I Can’t Wait

My daughter just sent the dates when her family will be with us over the Christmas week. I can’t wait to see them. I can’t wait to decorate our tree and set up our plywood manger scene on the lawn. I can feel a sense of excitement building. How often do you say, “I can’t wait,” and mean a sense of eagerness and longing? We all know the other kind of waiting: slow-motion moments filled […]

Prayers Rising

“Let my prayer be counted as incense before you.” —Psalm 141:2 I just blew out my candle on my desk, and the smoke billows upward. I take my palms and catch some of the spindly lines, moving them upward as I add my thoughts of thanks. I didn’t expect this small visual reminder of prayer to touch me so. I’ve finished planning a retreat for a women’s group, and it’s time to transition to the […]

In the Mother Church of the Jesuits

As I write this, the Society of Jesus meets in Rome for their 36th General Congregation. It amazes me that despite being founded by St. Ignatius in 1540, the Society has held just 36 general sessions since then. I stood next to Ignatius last April, when I visited his apartment in the building next to the Church of the Gesu, the mother church of the Jesuits in Rome. There sits a bronze cast of the […]

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