21 Oct 2016

Grace in a graceless season: notes from a Catholic in politics

Spare a moment and a prayer for the political types, please and thank you. I’m one of them.
The bitter election-year exchanges on every platform are part of my daily life. Whether on television on online, shutting them down altogether is not an option, appealing though it may be. Politics is part of my vocation. Times like these, I’m tempted to wish it were otherwise.
This is a plague-on-both-your-houses year, looking at the major parties’ candidates for president. I am reading  C.S. Lewis’s  Mere Christianity this month, and something he wrote in there captures my attitude.
I feel a strong desire to tell you – and I expect you feel a strong desire to tell me – which of these two errors is the worse. That is the devil getting at us. He always sends errors into the world in pairs – pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse. You see why, of course? He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both errors. We have no other concern than that with either of them.
Providence was at work when I pulled that book off the shelf days ago.
We have to keep our eyes on the goal – the absolute goal of eternity in the Kingdom of God. Few things are harder for me to do. In politics, the goal is the next vote or the next election. In the greater scheme of things, in the Kingdom, the goal is something different.
I lose sight of that sometimes as a veteran campaign staffer, pro-life lobbyist, and policy blogger. Urgency inheres in those occupations: this vote, this minute, this interview, this crisis, leading up to a defined point: a specific vote or a specific election. Votes and elections are important, but they’re not final.

Sweet Potatoes, Genes, and Long Life

One woman decided to take a road trip after learning she had a terminal illness. Another switched careers. Both choices make sense, given the circumstances.

This year's World Food Prize goes to a team who developed a new sweet potato, scientists found a virus with spider genes, and there's a lively difference of opinion regarding human life span.

We've learned a lot since my youth, and there's a great deal left to learn.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

20 Oct 2016

“Day by Day”Was Written By An Obscure Saint

Do you remember this song, Day by Day in the Broadway play “GodSpell”? Well, it is based on a prayer from the 13th century by St. Richard of Chichester 

Thanks be to Thee, my Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits Thou hast given me, for all the pains and insults which Thou hast borne for me.
O most merciful Redeemer, Friend, and Brother,
may I know Thee more clearly, love Thee more dearly,
follow Thee more nearly, day by day. Amen

As the Morning Rising: Light Within

As the Morning Rising: Light Within: Sometimes the inferno of a setting sun when reflected on western-facing window panes suggests that the space within is lit internally. ...

19 Oct 2016

Mourning for my Maker

My family used to spend their summer holidays in our little cottage on the Yorkshire moors just below the mighty Ingleborough, which was the nearest thing I had ever seen to a mountain. I loved to watch and listen to the moorland birds. My favourite of all was the kestrel.  Kestrels were comparatively rare in those days, at least to a townie like me, so I watched it for hours hunting in the heather. I loved the peat moorland and the majestic Ingleborough towering over our little cottage. No other landscape has affected me more deeply, perhaps because it was my first love, and there’s always something special about your first love.  read on...

As the Morning Rising: God's Presence

As the Morning Rising: God's Presence: Being in God's presence is more than companionship, for in God our bodies as well as our minds and hearts and souls find rest We are...

CCD Week 4

So I was out for week 3 hence why it goes from 2 to 4. I swear I can count! After being gone for a week my kids were super jumpy. The week I was gone the kids were in with the third grade class, so I have no idea what they did. They told me but all at once and at 100 mph!
So get out a lot of this energy we did our opening prayer. The kids really like saying the Our Father Prayer and so I let them run with it.
After our opening prayer I lined everyone up on the side of the room.
I began exuding people and switching them to spots all over the room. Trust me they needed the run. When then continued to exclude people by the following:
Then my favorite part comes where I make my kids think! What I love most about these open ended questions is that my kids really put their thinking caps on.

Bearing Wrongs Patiently; Spiritual Work of Mercy

Have you ever been accused of something for which you were innocent? Perhaps your spouse blamed you for leaving the dirty dishes in the sink. Or perhaps your neighbor accused you of calling the police on them because of their rowdy party this past weekend. Whatever the reason, we all bear wrongs of others. Yet, do we do it patiently?

Do we look at these incidents and become defensive? Do we feel the need to defend our honor and the truth? Or, do we weigh the situation and come to realize that the grace of peace and harmony far outweighs the need to be right? If the answer to this last question is yes, then... Read more...

Year of Mercy, Part 4: Jesus Teaches Forgiveness

We have been the recipients of God’s incredible abundant mercy. Now we are to let mercy flow from us onto others. We are to be the face of God’s compassionate love for others: our family members, friends, and colleagues. Jesus taught us this. When he was criticized for eating with tax collectors and sinners, he said, “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ ” Mercy doesn’t judge; it loves. Click to Continue

The Unjust Judge in the Parable of the Persistent Widow, in Divorce, & in Life

I left the courtroom, again feeling drained. It's been over seven years since my husband left. You'd think he'd be happier. You'd think he'd get on with his life. You'd think he'd let me get on with mine. You'd think the court systems would protect victims of verbal and emotional assault.
You'd think I'd know better by now.

In this week's Gospel, Jesus tells the story of the persistent widow. We know not whether the woman is young or old, rich or poor, childless, or raising a gaggle of young ones 24/7 with no help from family or friends. We know little of her or her situation, but we do know she was treated badly and is seeking the court's help.

Perhaps some of us can put ourselves in the woman's shoes. With the advance of no fault divorce, record numbers of marriages are breaking up, and increasing numbers of people are seeing marriage as broken. These people then turn to the courts for justice. Most, especially victims of unwanted divorce, turn away disappointed thanks to an unjust system.

Marriage itself is pure and blessed. Marriage is perfect, even in the difficult times, because it is God's Sacrament and a reflection of His unconditional, sacrificial Love, but the reality of how we enact Marriage is far from perfect. Reality includes imperfect humanity marring the perfection of a Sacrament. Marriage as God intends it presents opportunities to learn and grow, to stand and gain strength, and to bow and submit. Through better or worse, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, Marriage is Sacred and Good.

Marriage, as God intended and without government interference, is never broken;divorce, by definition, always is.

To continue reading, please join me at SingleMomSmiling.com   God Bless...

17 Oct 2016

Pride Will Infiltrate Your Soul; Chiseling Required to Uproot

We conclude with the seventh installment of our seven-part series on the seven deadly sins. Today we discuss Pride: the root of all evil!

Pride will infiltrate your soul, leaving no room for anything else. It will drive your thoughts and actions, if you let it. You don’t even know what is happening to you at the time. Unbeknownst to me, that is exactly what happened to me! Only upon reflection, and with a true dose of honesty, can one start the process of moving from prideful to humble. Here is my story:

When I was a child,...

The Computer Manager

16 Oct 2016

One of Our New Saints!

Someone once wondered why my earliest writings on The Cloistered Heart did not mention saints who'd had ideas somewhat similar to my own. Actually, I'd had no clue that anyone else ever thought such things... at least things with specifically 'cloistered' imagery.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I first read this from Elizabeth of the Trinity: 

'May the God Who is all love be your unchanging dwelling place, your cell, and your cloister in the midst of the world.'

Oh my goodness... (continue...) 

Alchemy, Science, Life, and Health

(From BBC, via Wikipedia, used w/o permission.)
("I find that nothing's ever exactly like you expect...." (Professor Richard Lazarus))

A mad scientist's lot is not a happy one. All he wants is to redefine being human: and the next thing you know, he's eating guests at his victory celebration.

Doctor Who's The Lazarus Experiment doesn't have much to do with The Devil Bat and The Brain That Wouldn't Die, apart from featuring a mad scientist — and science gone horribly wrong.

Some movies, like Fantastic Voyage and Things to Come, present science and technology as useful.

But "tampering with thing man was not supposed to know," as Mr. Squibbs put it, keeps the plot going for quite a few; like Altered Species, They Saved Hitler's Brain, and Island of Lost Souls.

Reticence, reasonable and otherwise, regarding new ideas isn't new....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

10 Minute Daily Retreat: October - Gift of Knowledge

“I the Lord search the heart
    and examine the mind,
to reward each person according to their conduct,
    according to what their deeds deserve.”
Jeremiah 17:10
The gift of knowledge is summed up beautifully in this passage. It is like an heirloom of jewelry sometimes given to European children – each receive a piece that is similar in its element and age but the jewelry itself is different depending on the child’s position in the family. 

The youngest child might receive a bracelet. The middle child might receive a necklace. The eldest child might receive their mother’s wedding ring. 

In the same way, the Lord gives us various capacity of knowledge according to where he born us in society. He expects us to use this gift to the best of our ability.

Overall, the gift of knowledge is the appreciation of the heirloom that God has given to us – not wishing for the wedding ring if we were given the bracelet but using the full value of the wedding ring if we have been entrusted with it. 

Importantly, it is the willingness to spend the value the heirloom in deeds deserving of His reward.

15 Oct 2016

Other than giving long homilies,what do the Catholic Church members actually do? (Spanish) Aparte de sermonearnos ¿A qué se dedica la Iglesia Católica?

 Resultado de imagen de misioneras de la caridad
En la visita del Papa Francisco a México, la Iglesia volvió a situarse en el centro de la atención de los medios de comunicación y de las comunidades política, intelectual y cultural de México. Pero ¿Conocemos realmente lo que hace la Iglesia? ¿Qué esconde la Iglesia que casi nadie sabe del actuar de sus miembros?

La imagen construida de una Iglesia enfrascada en sermones y condenación de cualquier progreso de la ciencia por décadas ha concentrado la atención del mundo entero en los aspectos doctrinales que son ¨políticamente incorrectos” y que van contra los intereses comerciales y políticos de muchos líderes y empresas, y han pasado por desapercibida la riqueza escondida de la Iglesia. Nadie parece saber en dónde está, no porque la esconda, sino porque no hay muchos interesados en que se conozca, y porque a ella no le interesa quien lo sepa, sino Dios.

An Interview with Catholic Writer Amy M. Bennett

I managed to get an interview with Catholic writer Amy M. Bennett for my blog. If you enjoy reading mysteries, you'll love hers!

Here's the interview: continue

Humorous,Witty, Holy: St.Teresa of Avila

St. Teresa of Avila is the real deal; holy, down to earth, humble and best of all extremely articulate.  Her  phrases are succinct, to the point yet those few words point to a deep, Divine wisdom.


As the Morning Rising: St Teresa of Avila

As the Morning Rising: St Teresa of Avila: ‘What a great favour God does to those He places in the company of good people.’ ‘Remember that you have only one soul, that you have...

St Francis of Assisi - Part 2 - The Soldier

Pietro Bernadone, the father of St Francis, was proud of his son’s business skills.  He was proud too that he was  popular with his peers. He looked on with admiration to see the sons of the local aristocracy vying for his friendship and favour along with the other ‘lager louts' of his day. Father and son had dreams and the money that they made together made these dreams seem to be within their grasp. The age was already dawning, indeed it had already come, when a tradesman of substance could rise up beyond his origins. He could take his place with the minor aristocracy and have some say in the running of the world where his forebears had lived as little more than minions for more than a millennium.  read on

As the Morning Rising: The Changes ( Clerical )

As the Morning Rising: The Changes ( Clerical ): The Changes ( Clerical ) Scanning the list Looking for any familiar names Running an eye or finger along the lines And in between...

14 Oct 2016

'When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?’ Sunday Reflections, 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Moses, Michelangelo, 1515, San Pietro, Vinculo, Rome
Gospel Luke 18:1-18 (NRSV, Catholic)

Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, ‘In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, “Grant me justice against my opponent.” For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, “Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.”’ And the Lord said, ‘Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?’
Old Woman Praying, Rembrandt, 1629-30
Last Sunday's story about the ten lepers healed by Jesus and only of whom came back to thank him, a Samaritan, a 'foreigner', told us the importance of gratitude to God for everything, especially for the gift of life itself and the gift of faith.
Today's First Reading and Gospel - the two are always linked by a common theme - stress the importance of prayer as an expression of faith. Prayer is the expression of being in a living relationship with God, an expression of a living faith.
But the gift of faith can be lost by an individual, by a whole community, by a whole section of the world. In the early centuries of Christianity North Africa had a vibrant Church and produced great bishops and theologians such as St Augustine of Hippo, which is in Algeria. Today there is only a handful of Christians in that country, nearly all either missionaries or workers from other countries.
Full post here.

Elastic Brains and New Tech

Maybe 'you can't teach an old dog new tricks,' but apparently the adult brain isn't nearly as rigid as scientists thought.

I'll be looking at neuroplasticity, the idea that brains can change; research that may lead to better neural interfaces; and 'brain training' games....

...We've been learning a great deal about the human brain and how it works. That's a good thing for me, since I have maintenance issues with mine....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.



Before the Day Sets Traps

13 Oct 2016

Struggling To Hear God In the Silence? Try Colouring

At Play In God’s Creation is an invitation to experience Divine Love in a concrete way. When people focus on colouring, they concentrate on being present to the moment. Playful creativity helps people relax and let go of distractions and worries. As minds gradually become quiet, people discover they are able to be simply in the moment, in silence, where they are free to meet God in a healing encounter. Many counselors use coloring or drawing to draw out what ails a child – especially in situations of abuse. This is a natural progression from this method.
Most importantly, colouring is a delightful way to discover joyful intimacy with God because people find themselves creating with the Creator. In this way, it seems to me that this book functions as a sacramental. An engagement with the physical activity of picking up a marker draws people into their body, leading to an intense awareness of self and then a forgetting of self where they are open to a touch from God.

As the Morning Rising: Send Down Your Spirit Like The Dewfall

As the Morning Rising: Send Down Your Spirit Like The Dewfall

Your Ex is a Leper & Unworthy of God's Forgiveness

"You'll never guess what he did now..." I grabbed my best friend, my confidant, and bit into the story. I should have brought my complaints solely to God, but I felt I needed someone human to empty the latest episode with my ex on. I don't believe in telling everyone the all the gory, ongoing details, but sometimes I need to unload on someone. She listened and then went into what her ex had done too. Both of us shaking our heads in disbelief as we heard each others' stories.

For me, the intense agony of abandonment and betrayal has long been gone. Feelings of romantic love or longing for a reunion as well as fear of not being good enough or pain of worthlessness were long ago replaced by nothing more than amazement that I had ever loved a man capable of doing what my ex does and disbelief that I had ever found him the least bit attractive. I tend to look at him as a leper of society, one worthy of being shunned, and I think, "If people only knew..."

My husband's leaving was very public, and people came out of the woodwork to let me know what they thought. Men said he needed to be taken behind the woodshed and taught a lesson. Female friends were at a loss, often tearing up with their own powerlessness and the idea that any husband could walk out on a pregnant wife and five small children.

Many said what my ex had done was unforgivable. They said he should rot in hell. I was in a strange place. I appreciated and even needed their support but did not want this man I'd loved to rot in hell. It was something I'd wish on no one, not even one who had hurt my boys and me so intensely and intentionally.

To continue reading, please join me at SingleMomSmiling.com

12 Oct 2016

Playing with the Saints! ~ Blog post #15

Saint Margaret of Antioch
The story behind this saint is mostly legendary but it was so interesting I had to share it. I hope you enjoy learning about her legend as much as I did. The information I share with you is taken from an old book, The Golden Legend, written around 1260–almost 800 years ago!

Saint Margaret was born in Antioch during the third century. Her father was a pagan priest and her mother died shortly after her birth. Margaret’s father sent her to be cared for by a woman who lived about twenty miles away in the countryside. This woman was a Christian and taught Margaret about the faith. When Margaret was old enough to understand the faith, she too became a Christian and promised Jesus she would never marry–promised herself to Christ as His bride. When her father found out he was furious and banished her from the family. The woman who had raised Margaret adopted her and Margaret became a shepherdess–(a woman who raises and cares for sheep.)

Read more to find out about the dragon...

Laziness Will Hamper You; Doubts, the Seeds of Laziness

We continue with the sixth installment of our seven-part series on the seven deadly sins. Today we discuss Laziness (also known as sloth).

Everyone has goals in life; things that you want to accomplish. Whether it be obtaining a new house, or new career, spiritual growth or mastering some skill; nothing comes easily without hard work and effort. Laziness will hamper your ability to achieve your goals because it robs you of clear focus and purpose. You begin to doubt that what you want is achievable, so why try? Allowing doubts to take root is the underlying cause for laziness. Doubts come from the devil! He doesn’t want you to think that improving your lot in life is worth the effort, because he tells you that you are worthless. You begin to believe the devil’s lies and before you know it, laziness has settled into your life.

Once laziness takes root in your life, you “refuse the joy... Read more... 

Jesus and Women

I’m interrupting my series on mercy by this blog that is relevant in light of current events.  God would certainly support women’s rights. According to Genesis, our God, who is neither male nor female, created women in his own image and likeness. Therefore, they are God’s children who share in God’s divinity. Women are men’s partners and have equal dignity. However, God apparently favors women! When God decided to come to earth as a human being, there were many options. God could have appeared as a grown man, a baby washed up on the shore, or the wealthy son of a king. Instead, the Son of God was conceived by a young village girl by the power of the Holy Spirit. As abolitionist Sojourner Truth pointed out in a speech, “Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with him.” God’s mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, was the first person to hear the news that the Messiah was on his way. Click to continue

As the Morning Rising: Prayer

As the Morning Rising: Prayer: What prayer does best is bring me out of myself - and that's always a good place to go.

11 Oct 2016

Why Even Faithful Catholics Suffer From Mental Illness

Although most respectable members of our parishes try to look healthy and content in public, mental illness is as common and invisible among the faithful as it is in secular circles. I would wager that mental health issues are especially prevalent among the devout who are serious about their inner life; when people tackle deep inner issues which prevent God from working in their lives, their inner equilibrium is upset by stress, anxiety, and depression. 

This probably explains why most saints experienced profound periods of depression when they finally looked beneath their pious actions to face the reality of their own ingrained sin and subsequent need for inner purification.

God offers His children the means to become free from sin, bad habits and mental illness through the Church, prayer, confession but also through therapy. Let's bring mental illness out of the shadows of shame and into the Light of Christ.


10 Oct 2016



Mini-Pilgrimage St. Patricks NYC

This is not St. Patrick’s. This is another Catholic church down town. It is what inspired me to go. You see I go to this part of the city at least four times a year for the last seven years and I had never been so I was inspired to take a stroll…
While visiting NYC last week I was able to take my self on a date. Maybe it is just me but I enjoy the time. I had some where to be at 12:30 and was in the city by 9 am. So I figured I would just go exploring. One of my adventures that day was a MINI-Pilgrimage to St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
If you would like to learn more about ST. Patrick’s so you can take a trip click here.
It was absolutely AMAZING and BREATH Taking.  Click here to continue 

It's a Jungle Out There

           I attended Catholic school grades 1 through 8, and this of course meant wearing a uniform. In the lower grades it was a blue plaid jumper with a skirt.
            That created a problem. Our play yard had a jungle gym, and some boys in the class took advantage of the situation to look up our skirts whenever we girls were on it. A few of us complained to the teacher about this unscrupulous behavior. Well, Sister came up with a not so brilliant solution: ban the girls from the jungle gym.
            I'll never forget going out to recess that day, and hearing some boys on the jungle gym sneering, "Nyah, nyah. Girls aren't allowed. Nyah, nyah."

            I learned a lesson that day, although I'm sure it wasn't one Sister intended:

Greed Will Debilitate You; Fear is Behind All Greed

We continue with the fifth installment of our seven-part series on the seven deadly sins. Today we discuss Greed.

Greed, also known as avarice, will debilitate you because you’re dealing with a bottomless pit; an abyss. The unending desire for more money, power or fame, leaves a person feeling empty, insecure and unfulfilled no matter how much one tries to garner. There is no amount of money that guarantees security, for the fear of losing it all is ever-present. No amount of power garners confidence and self-assuredness, for the fear of losing control is ever-present. No amount of fame makes one feel like he/she “has arrived,” for the fear of being discounted and dismissed never goes away. Anyone who seeks more money, power or fame, for the purpose of filling a void, fights a losing battle. Read more...

As the Morning Rising: Healing

As the Morning Rising: Healing: Healing Lord let me be as healer To the suffering stranger. May enough pass between us In silence For him to know I w...

9 Oct 2016

What Miracles of Grace?

How do we know what miracles of grace we may be the instruments of when... (continue)