The Way of Pilgrimage

A few months ago, I went on pilgrimage to Ireland and Scotland, to visit sites important to Celtic Christianity. I had been on pilgrimage before but had never been to this part of the world. I was with a group of Episcopalians from my sister-in-law’s church in Florida. So, in addition to absorbing the pilgrimage, I was making a number of new friends. How does a person “do” pilgrimage? For someone like me, from the […]

Church and Community

The other day at Mass we sang a song that brings me back to my youth, a World Youth Day theme song called, “We Are One Body.” The song stuck in my head for hours afterward, leading me to consider more deeply what the song is really about, particularly in the context of my life right now. The song is about community. When we sing it, we remember that we are in community with those […]

Four Signs That You Are Merciful

God’s mercy, as Julian of Norwich put it, is “all love in love.” Mercy goes much further and deeper than taking pity on someone in need or reconciling with someone who has asked forgiveness. Mercy is a way of looking at life, a way of approaching our everyday experiences and relationships. There are many signs of a merciful spirit; let’s tackle a mere four of them today. You expect good (behavior, attitude, intention) from others […]

Coffee Shop Encounter

Mary and I were talking at the coffee shop about a ministry we lead. The tables were close together, but I forgot that as I was engrossed in conversation. We didn’t see the professionally dressed man at the table next to us, laptop open, until we noticed that he was crying. “God bless you!” he said emotionally when we made eye contact. “Obviously, you’re women of faith. I’m inspired.” “Are you eavesdropping on us?” I […]

The Time Is Now

Somewhere nearby—perhaps a co-worker in the next cubicle; a friend across the room; a stranger in the chair next to you; a spouse beside you in bed; a child clawing at your leg for attention—there, now, is an opportunity for love. Before you is God’s invitation to know him. Do not delay; do not postpone love. Reach for it; give your whole self to it. Use your imagination, for love is not for the sluggish. […]

Fasting from Things: A Limit of 20

An extraordinarily beautiful donation came into the St. Vincent de Paul thrift shop once. A woman gave us a box of over 100 silk scarves, all colors and sizes, for all seasons of the year. Each one unique and in perfect condition, they were laundered, pressed, and folded. We volunteers spent an afternoon admiring each one as we priced them all. We also spent a lot of time wondering why anyone on earth would need […]

Surrendering Our Swords

As we wound our way up the Catalan mountain in our zippy, little car, I imagined St. Ignatius traversing Spain on his own pilgrimage to Montserrat. I found it hard to imagine how he would have made it over the rugged terrain on horseback. He was, at that point, travelling alone without servants, just months out from the crippling blow of the cannonball. What pain he must have suffered as he rode! It gave me […]

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 […]

Story Hoarder

We get donations from families of deceased hoarders occasionally at St. Vinnies. They bring in boxes and bags of everything imaginable, most of which should have been discarded decades ago. Hoarders are a trendy fixation. There are reality shows about hoarders, books about hoarders, magazine articles about them, and jokes about them. There are newspaper hoarders, food hoarders, fabric hoarders, and cat hoarders. With all the recent press about hoarding, many people are looking into […]

Cannonball Moments

My car entered into a spin that left me pressing locked brakes and clutching a wheel that could not be steered. Halfway through the spin, the momentum brought the car onto its outer two wheels—the side where the gas tank is housed. The sounds of the steel arching beneath me as the car fought to right itself inspired my desperate prayer: “Lord, is this the day I’m going to see you? If it’s ok with […]

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