Saint of the week – Saint Catherine of Siena

April 29, 2009 at 2:33 am (Uncategorized)


I need a break from All Swine Flu, All the Time.  (Sam just got back from LA and told me he’d been reduced to reading Swine Flu Today as well as The Swine Flu Times).  I can’t take it, and I feel the need for some divine intervention, so I’m initiating a new blog feature.  Here you go, here’s your saint of the week.


St. Catherine of Siena

St. Catherine of Siena

Saint Catherine of Siena’s feast day is April 29.  The 25th (from one mother?  please say not from one mother!!!!!) child of a wool dyer and a poet’s daughter in northern Italy, St. Catherine started having mystical experiences when she was only 6.  She became a Dominican Tertiary when she was 16, and continued to have visions of Christ, Mary, and the saints.  St. Catherine was a brilliant theological mind, corresponding by letter with princes and rulers throughout Italy, as well as papal officials, all despite having no formal education. St. Catherine’s letters, nearly 400 of ’em! as well as her dialogue are considered among the most brilliant writings in the history of the Church. She died at the age of 33.

There, take that, swine flu!


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In training

April 27, 2009 at 11:44 pm (Uncategorized)

I’m doing a triathlon in June.  I’m telling everyone I know, too.  I’m sure my friends and family are plenty sick of the topic, so I’ve moved on to strangers.  Beware if you’re my checkout clerk at the grocery store or in front of me in the ticket line at the movies; I’m very likely to bore you to tears with my triathlon tales.  This is what I’m thinking though:  the more people who know that I’ve signed up, the more accountable I am, to do the training, to do the triathlon, to do my best.

So I’m wondering if I ought to be the same way with my faith.  Blogs aside, I’ve never been one to wear my religion on my sleeve.  I’m not comfortable evangelizing or proselytizing or anything-izing, I guess (which is odd because otherwise I so enjoy telling others what to do and where to go).  And I’d say that I have a pretty puny prayer life too.  It could definitely use some bulking up.  Maybe I really should be mentioning that I’m in training as a Catholic too…that I’m trying to exercise my prayer muscles, but it’s slow going; that I’m trying to walk humbly with God, but that it’s a lot easier to run really fast the other way; that I would hope you could tell just by looking at me, but I lack a little definition yet…

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Angels and Demons…

April 25, 2009 at 8:07 pm (Uncategorized)

What’s with the uproar over Ron Howard’s new movie? It’s based on Angels and Demons, a book by Dan Brown (he of The DaVinci Code fame). Evidently The Catholic League, or at least its president Bill Donohue, is all hot and bothered about its purported anti-Catholicism.

Here’s a question. Did they see the movie yet? It hasn’t been released yet, so I kind of doubt it. What happened to “Judge not, lest ye be judged?” That’s not such a good motto for a movie critic, I guess, but why is the Church, or the Catholic League for that matter, in the movie review business?

I’ll tell you the problem with Dan Brown…and here’s a hint: it’s not that he’s anti-Catholic. Although he spins a heckuva yarn, he’s a.) not a great writer, and b.) got a real logic problem…as in, he appears to be unfamiliar with the concept. So you know, the smarter move would be to let us read the books, or see the movies, and figure out the flaws for ourselves. Don’t get all Inquisition-y on us.  Just a tip from your Auntie Em.

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Divine Mercy Sunday

April 20, 2009 at 3:11 am (Uncategorized)

That’s what today was, Divine Mercy Sunday, in case you didn’t know…And what is Divine Mercy Sunday you ask? It’s the feast celebrated the Sunday after Easter, in which we should be remembering St. Faustina and her revelation of Jesus as a fount of mercy and love and compassion…

Anyway, the readings today are pretty challenging my friends. The gospel is the “doubting Thomas” story. (Poor old Thomas…history’s most famous skeptic. And really, is his reaction any different from what anyone’s would have been? Although I guess I’m not going to feel too sorry for him. He is a saint after all) The one that gets me today though is the first reading…from the Acts of the Apostles. You’d better just take a look:

Acts 4:32-35

The community of believers was of one heart and mind,
and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own,
but they had everything in common.
With great power the apostles bore witness
to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus,
and great favor was accorded them all.
There was no needy person among them,
for those who owned property or houses would sell them,
bring the proceeds of the sale,
and put them at the feet of the apostles,
and they were distributed to each according to need.

Do you read that the way I do? Holy crap! Because I don’t know about you, (although I’ve got a guess…) but that’s just not how I’m living…(And why is the Beatles’ Revolution now pounding in my head?) I’ve got to say, this is one of those all-too-frequent instances where I hear the Word and my pathetic reaction is, “Um, nope. No can do. ‘They’ must not really mean it. Too hard.” Thank goodness for that Divine Mercy…but I still think I, and by “I,” I so totally mean “we,” ought to be trying a little harder.

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Poor neglected little blog

April 17, 2009 at 1:16 am (Uncategorized)

I’ll be back to it, I promise, but I’m late on a different writing assignment…I mentioned to a friend that it was discouraging to realize that I haven’t changed a whit since college; I still can’t do any work until the last minute. And her lovely reply? How comforting that some things haven’t changed…

In the meantime, take a look at this marvy take on Obama speaking at Georgetown. Can I get an “Amen?”

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Happy Easter

April 12, 2009 at 6:20 pm (Uncategorized)


Alleluia. He is risen.

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Good Friday

April 10, 2009 at 1:38 pm (Uncategorized)

Our last responsiblity last night was to sing as we processed with the Holy Eucharist out of the church, to sing as the Arch and the bevy of priests (there ought to be a collective noun for priests – a prayer of priests?) prayed in the atrium, and finally to sing as they left. And there, as they all filed out, we sang, “Stay with me…remain here with me…watch and pray. Watch and pray,” the words that Jesus used in the Garden of Gethsemane as he exhorted his disciples to keep him company as he prayed before his ordeal. Well, you know how that turned out…and as we too abandoned Christ present in the Eucharist, walking out of the atrium, I fell apart. I sobbed. I could not sing. I think every year, in my foolish, human, sentimental way, I wish there could be a different ending to this story.
Every time my six-year-old mentions The Passion, she says “that sad story…but there’s a happy ending!”
Well, today is not actually a day where I want to think about the happy ending. I want to be sad and sorry…sorry for the sin in the world, sorry for the suffering, sorry for how wretched human beings can be to one another.

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Holy Thursday

April 10, 2009 at 2:45 am (Uncategorized)

Let me just say at the outset that my faith is not strong. I have not been given that gift. I myself am more of the “fake it ’til you make it” variety. (Last year I read that compilation of Mother Teresa’s letters

    Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light – The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta

where she confessed to an almost unrelenting doubt which persecuted her for most of her life…I did not receive the intended comfort from reading about her anguish. Rather, I wondered what on earth hope there is for any of us, when a living saint is not free from such torment. But I digress…) Anyway, having such a poor faith, I am all the more grateful for those fleeting moments of grace when they do occur.
This evening I had one in the bathroom.
I’m sorry if that seems crude or inappropriate but it’s true. The choir had assembled for a quick rehearsal and warm-up before our Holy Thursday mass. It did not go well. We were stressed and anxious, and our singing reflected it. After our director left the room, I asked if we could say a prayer, to start out our Triduum observance in a slightly better frame of mind. So we did. And then nature called, and I made a pit stop…where I was overcome, simply overcome with love and gratitude and a sense of God’s presence here in the world. All in the second stall of the women’s bathroom.
So what I did I do with my grace? I carried it with me through mass, where I prayed some more: in thanksgiving for the love of my family, especially my mother, whose birthday is today; in gratitude for the friendship and fellowship of the choir; and for all of us laboring behind and in front of the scenes at the church, that through this busy and chaotic time, we too might feel the awe and mystery of the season…all while staying in tune.

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Vocation, vocation, vocation!

April 6, 2009 at 7:03 pm (Uncategorized)


A couple of years ago I went through a rough period. I had dislocated my shoulder for the eight bazillionth time (that might be a slight exaggeration…) and several orthopedic surgeons told me that I either needed to have surgery immediately or risk having debilitating arthritis in my shoulder by the time I turned fifty, or maybe earlier. I went through with the surgery, even though it wasn’t a convenient time, what with being the primary caregiver to a three-year-old and a one-year-old. (When exactly IS a convenient time to have surgery you might be forgiven for thinking…well, not then, anyway). We hired a part-time nanny to help us get through my recovery period when I wasn’t allowed to lift anything more than five pounds, and we all survived, although not exactly unscathed.
Hindsight is 20:20, as they say, and in retrospect I realize that I was actually depressed. And why not? I wasn’t able to do my job. What a lousy feeling that is. I really empathize with the poor folks getting laid off in this rotten economy; it’s terrible not being able to realize your vocation.
It took me a while, but that time helped me to figure out that motherhood is my vocation. While I was recovering, I had a lot of time to myself while our sitter played with the kids at the park or at the beach. I spent that time thinking about what I should be doing. I started looking for jobs, mostly in the legal field, which was my former profession. And I was miserable. Absolutely stinking miserable. Maybe you can attribute it to my not being healthy, which, boy, that’s also a rotten feeling, but I think it was something deeper. I think I was accidentally ignoring my vocation, which is to parent my then two, but now three, children.
So no wonder I felt lousy.  Ignoring your vocation, your calling, is ignoring God.  Not a good idea.  And once I figured it out, I felt a lot better.  Like, monumentally.  That’s not to say that I won’t re-enter the workforce at some point in the future, or that I don’t have other things that I’m doing besides being a mom. But it is to say that raising our three children, and raising them well, with all that that entails, is and should be my primary focus.
So in a weird way, I’m grateful for that injury. I learned something important about myself and my purpose for having gone through it.

ps.  Like the picture?  Me, as seen through the eye and lens of a three-year-old.

pps.  Happy Holy Week!

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April 4, 2009

April 4, 2009 at 4:33 am (Uncategorized)

For the past two years, the Cathedral has published a book of daily reflections for Lent, and for the past two years I have been asked to write one of the reflections, which I consider to be a great honor, except for the night before it’s due when I’m sweating the actual writing. Anyway, Sam suggested that I post this year’s effort, so here you go:

April 4, 2009
Ez 37:21-28/ Jer 31:10.11-12abdc.13/ Jn 11:45-56

My dwelling shall be with them; I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Ez 37: 27.

What comfort Ezekiel’s words must have given his listeners! He spoke from captivity in Babylon. The Jews had seen their kingdom divided, and then lost. The proud days of David and Solomon must have seemed a very long time ago. How easy it would have been to despair…to feel abandoned by God.
But Ezekiel exhorts his audience to hold steady, to have faith, to believe in God’s power and goodness to deliver them from any obstacle, no matter how great. In their darkest hour – their slavery – this is the message the Lord gives to them: I will always, always be with you.
And take a look at those words again. God doesn’t say, “I will have great sympathy for what you’re going through as I observe it from My heavenly throne…” Oh no…He says “I will live WITH you. I will be right there. I have got your back.”
That promise is fulfilled beyond our wildest imaginings in Jesus.
What a perfect message for Lent! What a comforting message, what a crucial message to hear as we head into Holy Week, with its stories of doubt and betrayal and agony. We don’t go through it alone. In fact, we don’t ever go through anything alone. We are God’s people. He is with us…and always will be.

What is enslaving us this Lent? What is causing us to despair, to feel abandoned?
Do our actions this Lent demonstrate that we are people of God, that God is with us?

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