An Engaging Faith: 11/2-11/6

You are invited to join me this week for An Engaging Faith on Breadbox Media daily at 4pm EST.

Enter To Win a Copy of The Fransciscan Heart Of Thomas Merton by Fr. Dan Horan, O.F.M(Ave Maria Press) , Trusting God with St. Terese by Connie Rossini 
Drawing runs 10/19-10/25 Click to enter..

How important are contemplation and dialogue in our daily lives?

Jordan Denari  with Interfaith Dialogue and Islamophobia,  Dan Horan, O.F.M joins us with The Fransciscan Heart Of Thomas Merton, Connie Rossini with The Contemplative Family, An Encore of The Ignatian Solidarity Network(ISN)

And Karee Santos to discuss closing thoughts on the Synod of Bishops On The Family 2015.

Monday: Jordan Denari, is a writer, speaker, and Research Fellow for the Bridge Initiative, a project of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University. A voice on interfaith issues, Jordan writes about Islam, Christianity, the Middle East, and Islamophobia. Jordan has published articles in TIME, America, Commonweal, Sojourners, Huffington Post, On Faith, Busted Halo, and other outlets.

Tuesday: Fr. Dan Horan, O.F.M
is a Franciscan friar of Holy Name Province (New York) and is currently a Ph.D. student in systematic theology at Boston College. Fr. Dan has previously taught at Siena College and St. Bonaventure University and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the International Thomas Merton Society. The author of many scholarly and popular articles, Fr. Dan received a 2011 Catholic Press Association first-place award for his writing on spirituality. He is the author of several books, including Dating God: Live and Love in the Way of St. Francis, Francis of Assisi and the Future of Faith: Exploring Franciscan Spirituality and Theology in the Modern World, and The Franciscan Heart of Thomas Merton. In addition to his column in America, Fr. Dan is a regular contributor to Give Us This Day, The Huffington Post and blogs at 

Wednesday: Connie RossiniConnie Rossini gives whole families practical help to grow in holiness. She is the author of Trusting God with St. Therese, A Spiritual Growth Plan for Your Choleric Child, and the free ebook Five Lessons from the Carmelite Saints That Will Change Your Life. She writes a spirituality column for The Prairie Catholic of the Diocese of New Ulm, Minnesota, and blogs at Contemplative Homeschool. She is also a columnist for Her posts have appeared on Catholic Lane and elsewhere. She administers the Catholic Spirituality Blogs Network and owns the Google+ Community Indie Catholic Authors. Connie and her husband Dan have four young sons.

Thursday: The Ignatian Solidarity Network(ISN): a national social justice education and advocacy network inspired by the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola will be discussing the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice to be held November 7-9 in Washington D.C. ISN was founded in 2004 and is a lay-led 501(c)3 organization working in partnership with Jesuit universities, high schools, and parishes, along with many other Catholic institutions and social justice partners. Executive Director, Chris Kerr and intern Grace Donnelly will be joining us to share their passion for social justice at work in our communities today.

Friday: Karee Santos, will be joining  us again this time to talk about the Synod of Bishops On The Family 2015.. Karee and husband, Manuel P. Santos, M.D., a psychiatrist, began teaching marriage preparation and enrichment classes in New York City in 2003. Their Catholic marriage advice book The Four Keys to Everlasting Love will be published by Ave Maria Press in 2016. She also blogs at Can We Cana? a community to support Catholic Marriages.

Worth Revisiting: Invited into Community

It’s Worth Revisiting Wednesday! A place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link-up with fellow bloggers! Co-Hosted with Allison Gingras at Reconciled To You.

Have an hour to spare and share on a Saturday/Sunday afternoon or weekday morning after mass?  I cannot think of a better way to spend such a short amount of time than bringing communion to others. These ineffable moments of grace are truly invitations to not only bring the body of Christ, but to recognize the fullness of being the body of Christ.  What if for reasons of health, age or circumstance, you could no longer receive communion? Hear a knock? Open your heart today..

Invited into Community: The Joy of Eucharistic Ministry

eucharist-2“The Eucharist is not something we do simply to commemorate what Jesus did for us. Rather it is something that Christ does for us, filling us with grace and nourishing us with His own life. Let us live the Eucharist, in a spirit of joy and concern for all our brothers and sisters in need”. Pope Francis

This morning, I was thinking (a dangerous pastime, I know) about how incredibly busy, but restful and fulfilling my Sunday had been. While it seems odd perhaps to hold these adjectives together I believe that they highlight what it really means, to me, to “work six and rest one” in keeping the Sabbath holy. As so often the case, in anticipation of Sunday, there was an extra spring in my step as I reflected and then prepared for the day ahead. You see, my joy is not solely in going to mass with my immediate family, but is found in joining my larger family in Christ, in sharing communion together. Here, I am graced with brothers and sisters from varied backgrounds, of all ages, and nationalities each praying to the same Father. Each resting the work of their own hands, to bring all that they are- to be blessed and broken and enjoined as one in the beautiful sacrifice of Christ.

As a Eucharistic minister, I witness this so profoundly as each person steps forward to receive Christ. Some hands are soft, others rugged and worn, nonetheless within their eyes, I see God…and what a beautiful sight that is to behold!  At times I sense their sadness, others times their joy and still others their deep appreciation for this moment to pause to recognize Christ present with us. Each carrying the deep imprint of God on their souls, and each with the invitation to make Christ visible today.

Yet, what of those in our community, who because of age, illness or injury cannot be with us on Sunday? While many of us were able to experience the beautiful mystery of Christ’s presence this Sunday in the Eucharist, imagine if you could not. So often we might take for granted the ability to come and partake in communion together, yet for so many of our “family” this not an option.So in reading this,  I am asking you to please consider offering your gift of faith, love and service  to bring Christ, made truly present in the Eucharist and in our community, into their lives as well.

I promise, the joy and love that God provides in this ministry is one that can forever change your own life and serve as a continual source of blessing. This has been the experience of my husband and I, who have been serving for the past five years. We feel graced to have been witnesses to the sacred, these moments of profound gratitude, and light of Christ’s love into their lives.

So, what does this gift require? Our time spent in total at a facility is about an hour, although admittedly quite often we choose to spend longer! Perhaps you may be able to go once a week, yet if you can only go every other week, or visit someone home bound, you will be providing an immeasurable gift that might make their reception of the Eucharist possible.

In faith and prayer, I ask that you consider this beautiful ministry. God Bless-

A Doorway Into Our Souls: Praying with Teresa of Avila Part II

In continuation of our journey through the Interior Castle with Teresa of Avila we may find ourselves approaching the third dwelling place.

Through an initial curiosity and muddling in prayer we have heard God calling us. Rather than waiting at the door we have entered to discover the One who knows us better than we know ourselves. And in coming to know God, we begin to see ourselves both as we are as well as who we are intended to be. Desiring to know how we can ever repay the love and mercy shown to us in the course of our lives, and while failing or falling short immeasurably at times we feel beckoned to trust.

Upon entering the third dwelling, we are reminded that while we are perhaps living lives free of mortal sin and practicing acts of prayer and penance, that humility and praise remain essential. In this state, we are in need of humility to guard against both satisfaction and self-criticism, and to free ourselves from attachments to material gains of this earth.[1] While the focus still seems to be on us rather than on God, this time of reflection is needed to shed that which does not bring us true happiness.

What is it that holds me back from true freedom…from following God’s will in my life?

Can I recognize the spiritual gifts that God has given to aid me in persevering?

Souls here will find it helpful to consult a mentor or spiritual director that has passed through this room previously. Teresa had several advisors and confessors, like Diego de Cetina and Francis Borgia, that provided reassurance and guidance to keep focused on the humanity of Christ and his passion.[2] This provides a greater awareness of God’s consolations, and leads us to praise that still more is being asked of us in working towards His loving desires of peace and justice.[3]

In seeking God’s will, we are then guided to the fourth dwelling place where we discover how to rely less on the intellect in prayer, to achieve the spiritual delights that Christ has for us. Up to this point, we have perhaps enjoyed consolations which begin with our determined prayerful meditation and end in God’s love.[4] Yet, in spiritual delights we begin with a desire “not to think much but to love much…. to please God in everything, and in striving, insofar as possible, not to offend him”.[5] Thus, the source of spiritual delights begins and ends in God’s love, as an abundant stream “deep within us” that “swells and expands our whole interior being producing ineffable blessings”.[6] While aware and attentive now to this experience of being in the wake of God’s love, we cannot choose when or how it occurs.[7] We therefore, should not seek these delights but rather humbly surrender our intellect to God’s voice within, to accept these gifts as God sees fit to bestow them.[8]

Am I open today to being surprised by God’s love and consolations?



[1] Avila, p. 60-61
[2] New Catholic Encyclopedia, pp. 827-828
[3] Avila, pp. 64-65.
[4] Ibid., p. 69.
[5] Ibid., p. 70.
[6] Ibid., p. 75.
[7] Ibid. p. 79.
[8] Ibid., pp. 78, 81.

An Engaging Faith: 10/26-10/30

You are invited to join me this week for An Engaging Faith on Breadbox Media daily at 4pm EST.

Enter To Win a Copy of Random MOMents of Grace: Experiencing God in the Adventures of Motherhood by Ginny Kubit Moyer(Loyola Press), or True Radiance: Finding Grace in the Second Half of Life by Lisa Mladinich. (Franciscan Media)
Drawing runs 10/26-11/1 Click to enter..

Need Grace? Why.. Yes!

(Encore) Teresa Tomeo of Intimate Graces , Ginny Kubitz Moyer with Random MOMents of Grace: Experiencing God in the Adventures of Motherhood, Dr. Mark J. Zia with The Enduring and Timeless Truths of Fulton Sheen, Lisa Mladinich with True Radiance: Finding Grace in the Second Half of Life.

And Margaret Felice for Felice Fridays, our Catholic round table discussion.

Monday:Teresa Tomeo: Bestselling author, syndicated Catholic talk show host, and speaker with more than thirty years of experience in print and broadcast media. In 2000, Teresa left the secular media to start her own speaking and communications company, Teresa Tomeo Communications, LLC. Her weekday morning radio program, Catholic Connection, is produced by Ave Maria Radio in Ann Arbor, Michigan and now heard on over 200 Catholic stations nationwide through the EWTN Global Catholic Radio Network and is also carried on Sirius Satellite Radio. She and her husband, Dominick Pastore, are the authors of the soon-to-be released Intimate Graces, by Ave Maria, Press, which encourages couples to enrich their marriages by practicing the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy.

Tuesday:Ginny Kubitz Moyeran award-winning writer with a focus on motherhood and spirituality. Her book Random MOMents of Grace: Experiencing God in the Adventures of Motherhood celebrates the spiritual adventure of parenting, showing how grace can be found even amid the laundry and the Legos. Her first book “Mary and Me: Catholic Women Reflect on the Mother of God” (winner of a 2009 Catholic Press Award) shares modern women’s thoughts on the world’s most famous mother. Ginny lives with her husband and two small boys in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she trips over toys, teaches high school English, and does her best to approach it all with mindfulness and humor.

Wednesday: Dr. Mark J. Zia Author, Associate Professor of Theology and Director for Academic Enrichment Programs at Benedictine College, shares his wisdom on the teachings of Archbishop Fulton Sheen in his latest book, The Enduring and Timeless Truths of Fulton Sheen. Zia has a doctorate in dogmatic theology
from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, and an undergraduate degree from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio. Married and the father of seven children, he still finds time to travel around the country instructing candidates for ordination to the permanent diaconate.

Thursday: Lisa Mladinich, Author and speaker, Lisa Mladinich, creates dynamic presentations for catechists and inspiring talks on women’s issues and Marian spirituality. Lisa was raised in a military family and eventually landed in New York City, where she was as an actress for many years. She is a wife and homeschooling mom and teaches writing classes online for Homeschool Connections. She is the founder of Catholic Writers of Long Island,, Lisa is joining us today to share her latest book, True Radiance: Finding Grace in the Second Half of Life.

Felice Fridays!: Margaret Felice, Boston College alumnae and faculty member of Religion and Performing Arts at BC High in Boston MA, Opera Singer and blogger joins us for a fun an engaging talk about all things Catholic!

Worth Revisiting: Where Imagination is Key..My Ignatian Contemplation

It’s Worth Revisiting Wednesday! A place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link-up with fellow bloggers! Co-Hosted with Allison Gingras at Reconciled To You.

What is it to pray with our imagination? Rather than seeing our imagination as problematic, St Ignatius encourages us to invite ourselves into the scripture scene using all our senses. Can I see myself as one of those in the biblical passage? If not why? What might I be feeling if I were? Praying in this way may seem strange at first, but allows us to wholly engage with scripture in a meaningful way all our own!

Where Imagination is Key: My Ignatian Contemplation

As I sat in mass this morning, I was pulled into imagining the scenes that would accompany this scripture. What followed was an afternoon of playful visual creations and ongoing reflection!

Luke 12:1-7

The corruption around us is often pervasive, difficult to see and more difficult to avoid. Following Jesus, there is trust involved, a leaving of the known to embrace the unknown. Yet, I cannot seek to have a foot on both paths, but I am being asked to make a choice.

Just as we cannot keep our light hidden in the too will our thoughts and words spoken in darkness be brought into the light. Are there moments, thoughts or words spoken that I wish would remain hidden?  Am I courageous enough to follow Christ without fear and to speak truth in the face of persecution? Listening to Jesus, it hits room for just got real.

Being present here, I begin to feel the excitement of being able to share the beauty of the Gospel openly. On housetops? When have I felt so impassioned of the love of Christ that I desired to live it “out loud” to the world?

I matter to God. So much so, that he is aware of even the most minute detail about me. Are my fellow disciples thinking the same thing as I am now? I am not alone but have the protection of the One who knows and loves me best…better than I know myself. not be afraid? Again, Jesus is reminding me that I need not fear of witnessing the faith. Though most certainly here in this moment it could hold the promise of death. Am I ready to die for the faith? Can I see God’s continual loving protection and grace in the challenges, obstacles and crises in life..big and small?



A Doorway into Our Souls: Praying with St. Teresa of Avila

Who is this saint, you ask? What does a young 16th Carmelite nun still have to teach us..or better yet, what have we left to learn?
Yearn to take an inner pilgrimage, or encounter God in a life changing way? Then, I invite you to join my friend and companion, saint and mystic Teresa of Avila for a time of intimate discovery.

In a time when Spain was experiencing a profound theological and spiritual dialogue of cultures, religions and ideas,Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada was born.[1] The granddaughter of Jewish merchants, and daughter of new Christian Spanish nobility, Teresa is said to have taken to the piety of Christianity with both passion and humility.  A passion witnessed early, in her readiness at age seven, to leave home to decisively embrace a beheading for Christ by the Moors.[2] Likewise, Teresa possessed a humility illustrated in an awareness of humbler Jewish origins, as a women in a patriarchal society, and ultimately in her place before God.[3] Therefore, at age 12 when her mother died, we see a turning point as she was placed in the care of Augustinian nuns and drawn to an educated life of pious contemplation. Inspired by the writings of St. Jerome, and disillusioned at the prospect of married life for women in her time, Teresa decided to enter the religious vocation with the Carmelites at age 21.[4]

However, it wasn’t until Teresa faced a sudden illness that she became aware of the practice of contemplative prayer and recollection as a source of strength. Still, Teresa faced a time of 18 years of spiritual dryness in which she found herself “unable to integrate her relationships with the world and with God”. [5] Teresa struggled both to incorporate a practice of mental prayer, and to explain her mystic visions to an often unbelieving world.[6] This as she encountered a conversion of heart and mind toward that of “the sorely wounded Christ” and began to embrace the “vivid experience of God’s presence within her”.[7]

An Interior Castle: 1st and 2nd dwelling places…

Awakened by the divine mercy of Christ to a call to an intensely loving friendship, Teresa began to understand all prayer must begin and end in Christ. Prayer then is seen as a “door that opens up to the mystery of God and at the same time a means of communing with Him”.[8] This door is entry to one’s soul, of a beautiful crystal design with many rooms, much like heaven, where God also resides in its center.[9] Passage through the rooms of this castle is illustrative of one’s spiritual life and openness to God’s grace and action. In the first of seven dwelling places, Teresa describes it as a room of self knowledge and awareness to grace and the effects of sin. Through prayer, recollection, and in humility we begin to recognize both God’s majesty and the fruitlessness of our own efforts.

In the second of these dwelling places, are rooms filled with people, books, sermons, and even memories of our trials that allow us to reflect on God and His will for our lives.[10] Despite the assiduousness of evil at work here to turn us backward, the cross becomes our weapon and determination our path.[11] Teresa advises that should we “at times fall, don’t be discouraged and stop trying to advance….For even from this fall, God will draw out good”.[12] This is something that Teresa knew well, having mistakenly given up prayer for a time, only to find a greater renewed strength and resolute trust in Christ .[13]

In The Interior Castle, I too am drawn through the open door of prayer to greater self awareness, and in intimately encountering God at work within our very soul.  In beginning prayer, Teresa observes how we often advise God as to what we need when, “He can rightly tell us that we don’t know what we are asking for” [14]. I have discovered this release of control of my life and inner soul to God so essential in my own faith journey. Here trust, release, and recollection have provided a means to inner peace when my mind is engaged with the certainty of an uncertain world.

Interested in the sequel? Tune in during the next few weeks as we travel through each of the remaining 5 dwelling places culminating in St. Teresa’s blessed union in Christ.

You can also find additional posts on Teresa of Avila and Carmelite Spirituality at Contemplative Homeschool by Connie Rossini.



[1] Avila, Teresa. The Interior Castle. Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh and Otilio Rodriguez. Introduction by Kieran Kavanaugh. Preface by Raimundo Panikkar. The Classics of Western Spirituality series. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1979. (p. xiv.)
[2] New Catholic Encyclopedia. 2nd ed., s.v. “Teresa of Avila, St.” by O. Steggink, and S. V. Ramge. Vol. 13. Detroit, MI: Gale Group, 2003. 826-830. (accessed Oct. 9 2013). p.827
[3] Howe, Elizabeth Theresa. Education and Women in the Early Modern Hispanic World. Women and Gender in the Early Modern World series. Hampshire, England: Ashgate Publishing, 2008.p. 60.
[4] Ibid., pp. 62-63.
[5] Kieran Kavanaugh, Introduction, The Interior Castle, p. 2.
[6] Ibid., p. 3.
[7] New Catholic Encyclopedia, p. 827.
[8] Kavanaugh, p. 21.
[9] Avila, p. 35.
[10] Ibid, p.49.
[11] Ibid, p. 51.
[12] Ibid., p. 52.
[13] Kavanaugh, pp. 2-3.
[14]Avila, p.52

An Engaging Faith: 10/19-10/23

You are invited to join me this week for An Engaging Faith on Breadbox Media daily at 4pm EST.

Enter To Win a Copy of When Francis Saved the Church by Jon Sweeney(Ave Maria Press) , Advent with Pope Francis by Sr. Marianne Trouvé (Pauline Books & Media), or Sanctuary by Terry Hershey (Loyola Press).
Drawing runs 10/19-10/25 Click to enter..

Carving out time for sacred space, conversation and silence amidst our daily lives-

William Barry, SJ joins us with A Friendship Like No Other, also Jon Sweeney of When Francis Saved the Church, Sr. Marianne Trouvé’s Advent with Francis, and Terry Hershey with Sanctuary 

And Tony Agnesi with Finding God’s Grace in the Everyday

Monday: William Barry, SJ., is a veteran spiritual director and author who is currently serving as tertian director for the New England Province of the Society of Jesus at the Campion Center in Weston, MA. A native of Worcester, MA, Fr. Barry entered the Society in 1950 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1962. After earning a  Ph.D. in clinical psychology, he taught at the University of Michigan, Weston Jesuit School of Theology, and Boston College.  Fr. Barry served the New England Province in a variety of leadership roles including provincial.  Fr. Barry is the author and co-author 15 books. He currently resides at Campion Center where he continues to write and direct retreats. His many works include Letting God Come Close, A Friendship Like No Other, Here’s My Heart, Here’s My Hand, Seek My Face, and God’s Passionate Desire (Loyola Press), and God and You.

Tuesday: Jon M. Sweeneyauthor and editorial director at Franciscan Media, whose 11 books have sold more than 150,000 copies. The Pope Who Quit, sold more than 35,000 copies in the trade edition, was a selection of History Book Club, received a starred review in Booklist, and was excerpted by Reader’s Digest for its iPad subscribers. His books have become History Book Club, Book-of-the-Month Club, Crossings Book Club, and Quality Paperback Book Club selections. Sweeney has been interviewed on CBS Saturday Morning, Fox News, CBS-TV Chicago, Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, and on the popular nightly program Chicago Tonight. He is married, the father of three, and lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Today we will be talking about his book, by Ave Maria Press, entitled When Francis Saved the Church: How a Converted Medieval Troubadour Created a Spiritual Vision for the Ages.

Wednesday: Since 1976, Sr. Marianne Lorraine Trouvé, FSP, has been a member of the Daughters of St. Paul, an international congregation of women religious. She has an M.A. in theology from the University of Dayton. Since 1994 she has served on the editorial staff of Pauline Books & Media publishing house in Boston, Massachusetts. Author/editor of Mary: Help For Hard Times, St. Clare of Assisi, Angels, The Rosary with Pope Francis and Advent with Pope Francis. In addition to her numerous books Sr. Marianne blogs over at Thomas For Today.

Thursday: Terry Hershey, author, inspirational speaker, ordained minister, self admitted golf addict, and gardener. Terry lives on Vashon Island, near Seattle, WA.  His work has been featured on The Hallmark Channel, PBS, and NPR and he is the author of The Power of Pause (Loyola Press) which encourages us to slow down, Soul Gardening and his latest book Sanctuary: Creating a Space for Grace in Your Life .  He “divides his time between designing sanctuary gardens and sharing his practice of “pausing”and “sanctuary,” to help us do less and live more”.

Friday: Tony Agnesi, who is Finding God’s Grace in Everyday Life is the Senior Vice President of Rubber City Radio Group, WQMX, WONE, and WAKR in Akron and WNWV in Cleveland and member of Radio and Television Hall of Fame. A relentless storyteller, his Sunday blog and Wednesday podcast have an International audience in over 70 counties and has been translated in over 40 languages. Tony and his wife Diane have two adult sons and are members of the Sacred Heart of Jesus parish in Wadsworth, Ohio.

Worth Revisiting Wednesday: An Extraordinary Assembly

It’s Worth Revisiting Wednesday! A place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link-up with fellow bloggers! Co-Hosted with Allison Gingras at Reconciled To You.

As the 2nd year of the Synod on the Family has gotten underway we are reminded of both the joys and challenges of the family and the need to be open to the Holy Spirit. While Pope Francis cautions not to over politicize the Synod gathering, he also emphasized that the Church must seek out those in need of mercy to “welcome, accompany and not become a roadblock but a bridge”. 

An Extraordinary Assembly: Synod on the Family 2014

The Holy Family, courtesy of Catholic

“May the Wind of Pentecost blow upon the Synod’s work, on the Church, and on all humanity. Undo the knots which prevent people from encountering one another, heal the wounds that bleed, rekindle hope” Pope Francis (Prayer Vigil 10/4/14)

Our family on the occasion of our wedding some 20 years ago!

Today, is the opening of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the  “Pastoral Challenges to the Family in the Context of Evangelization”. What a beautiful opportunity to affirm both our commitment to our shared tradition, and to those memories still yet to be made in the joys and challenges that lie ahead. It is through a “living Gospel…as testified in the Scriptures, preserved through the example of the martyrs, and witness of ordinary believers” that we best understand our memory and identity as a people called to be church.[1] And yet, this same commitment invites us to dynamically respond to God’s grace in present and future situations which continue to shape and form us as followers of Christ.

Available from John Paul II Institute- Communio: International Catholic Review 2014

Here, we are acknowledging the relationship of the memory of the believing community with that of doctrine, the preserved expressions of faith, and that of the authority of office. Understood in this way, the community of faith is to be foremost in service to the truth of the gospel of Jesus. The doctrine then is to be reflective of the community in its various historical contexts, and the authority of office in service to all of these. It is, as Gaillardetz observes, “ not a monarchy or a democracy but a spiritual communion of persons called to submit themselves to hear God’s word and discern God’s will in the concrete circumstances of community” [2]

So then we come to the situations that have prompted this particular synod on the family, said to be seeking pastoral solutions in light of the Gospel. Specifically, the the Synod is to look at the reaffirming Church teaching on marriage and the family with attention to the eligibility of divorced Catholics to receive communion, scandals of abuse, same sex marriages, contraception, and cohabitation. As Pope Francis notes, there is a “special need for mercy in the church today” and to listen attentively and “discuss sincerely” with those faithful who have become “frustrated and marginalized”.[4] Here, in reflecting on Vatican II, we glimpse the special role of the bishop within the community as teacher and judge of the faith, guiding us in the truth of the Gospel. Likewise, in light of Lumen Gentium, as laity we see our responsibility, in patience and love  “to express our opinion on matters which concern the good of the church”. [3]

Remarkably, as attested by the synod questionnaire, the communities themselves were consulted somewhat directly on their understandings of and resonance with matters of faith. ( According to the latest Catholic News Service, the synod of 250 participants will consist of bishops, cardinals,leaders of Vatican congregations and councils, priests,  and 14 married couples from around the world.[5]   However, as the article also notes, there is a lot of room for how these opinions are considered, with only 26 papally appointed voting members. Still, this upcoming 2015 synod is a time to “assess the reception of the church’s teaching” as “sensus fidei” and then seek how best to address these controversial pastoral issues.[6]

While this synod is unprecedented in its approach, we must consider that the church has always been called upon to respond to the historical circumstances and interests of its time. Likewise, we need look no further than to the additional voices of theologians, historians and biblical scholars, who have continued to shed light on  the issues of the day.  Their fluency with the texts, traditions and practices of the church have been essential in appraising the exercise of church teaching as lived experience. They provide a unique perspective of taking a particular teaching, and understanding how well it has been ‘understood, received, and transformed into something new’.[7]  This is the reality of a living faith that is dynamically responsive to the unparalleled love, compassion, mercy and forgiveness of God. To understand our faith in this way, demands that we listen to the experiences of faith of a people past, give voice to the present and engage the challenges of the future with our hearts, minds and souls.

                                                 Peace, Signature

[1] Richard Gaillardetz  Ecclesiology for a Global Church: A People Called and Sent. (New York, NY. Orbis Books.  2008), p. 211.[2] Richard Gaillardetz, By What Authority?: Primer on Scripture, the Magisterium, and the Sense of the Faithful. (Collegeville, MN. Liturgical Press. 2003) p. 62. [3] ibid., p. 59  [4]  [5]  [6] ibid., p.78; [7]  Ecclesiology, p.226

Overcoming annoyance… Lead me on St. Thérèse!

“Formerly one of our nuns managed to irritate me whatever she did or said. The devil was mixed up in it, for it was certainly he who made me see so many disagreeable traits in her.”                    (The Story of a Soul, St. Thérèse)

To a chosen few, I have confided that this less than perfect, but usually patient child of God does indeed have her moments. There, I said it! All joking aside, however,this week I was reminded of St. Thérèse’s own difficulties with her fellow sister with someone in my own life.  While I didn’t outwardly display my inward feelings of annoyance and profound frustration, it was in truth all consuming. Occupying my mind, and keeping my heart at bay, I found myself unable to truly listen or engage in anything being said.  This inner hollow numbness, at the words being spoken was so striking, I caught myself aghast at my disconnect from the conversation and her expression of pain. Why was she telling me this? Why was I being drawn into her inner circle, is there no one else?, I was thinking. Then it sank in, God wasn’t asking anyone else in that moment…he was asking me.

As I did not want to give way to my natural dislike for her, I told myself that charity should not only be a matter of feeling but should show itself in deeds. So I set myself to do for this sister just what I should have done for someone I loved most dearly.” ( St. Thérèse)

So, therein lies the challenge, and the invitation that is set before me. To not only tolerate, but to extend the same love that I would show for someone “I loved most dearly”.  This requires not only desire but an intentional effort, something not usually needed for those whom we find easily to love. And yet for it to be meaningful, and not hypocritical, it has to begin with love and involve a change in heart. Yet, where do I start? Prayer.  Here is a gift that blesses not only the one being prayed for but the one who prays.

Every time I met her, I prayed for her and offered God all her virtues and her merits. I was sure this would greatly delight Jesus, for every artist likes to have his works praised and the divine Artist of souls is pleased when we do not halt outside the exterior of the sanctuary where He has chosen to dwell but go inside and admire its beauty.”  ( St. Thérèse)

Beauty, yes, God has most certainly given each one of us virtues and merits..that is worthy to be praised and recognized. While hidden at times, perhaps, they are there awaiting discovery and appreciation nonetheless. And still, I wonder, God’s brush strokes and artistry remain hidden at times within me? Most certainly, I wasn’t showing my best self to her, the fullness of who God had created me to be.

I did not remain content with praying a lot for this nun who caused me so much disturbance. I tried to do as many things for her as I could, and whenever I was tempted to speak unpleasantly to her, I made myself give her a pleasant smile and tried to change the subject.”  ( St. Thérèse)

Ah, here we have the next step, small outward gestures of love and concern. Not for the world to see, but that speak of our gratitude for God’s beauty within each of us.  St. Thérèse never said this was easy for her, in fact she speaks of her internal reluctance to do so. The resistance I feel, I cannot help but recognize is God himself prompting me to grow.

When I was violently tempted by the devil and if I could slip away without her seeing my inner struggle, I would flee like a soldier deserting the battlefield. And after all this she asked me one day with a beaming face: “Sister Therese, will you please tell me what attracts you so much to me? You give me such a charming smile whenever we meet.” Ah! it was Jesus hidden in the depth of her soul who attracted me, Jesus who makes the bitterest things sweet!”(St. Thérèse)

You too, St. Thérèse? Whilst the saints inspire us so much in the joys, delights and flights of ecstasy experienced in seeking to love and serve God, so too do their challenges. To this I say thank you, St. Thérèse for your openness and admittance of imperfection. Thank you for sharing so generously of the struggle. For in doing so, you have given the rest of us striving to be someday saints hope and companionship in the journey.



An Engaging Faith: 10/12-10/16

You are invited to join me this week for An Engaging Faith on Breadbox Media daily at 4pm EST.

Enter To Win a Copy of Adoption: Room for One More? by Jaymie Stuart  Wolfe(Pauline Media) or Just Married:The Catholic Guide to Surviving and Thriving in the First Five Years of Marriage by Greg and Lisa Popcak (Ave Maria Press)
Drawing runs 10/11-10/18 Click to enter..

Catholic Marriage and Family Essentials-

(Encore) Sue and Tim Muldoon of Six Sacred Rules for Families: A Spirituality for the Home , Jaymie Stuart Wolfe with Adoption: Room for One More?, Greg & Lisa Popcak joins us to discuss the World Meeting of Families and their book Just Married..

With Catholic educator Barb Gilman on Tuesday and  MargaretFelice for Felice Fridays to talk about the latest Catholic news, events, tweets and posts.

Monday:Sue and Tim Muldoon: Join us to discuss their latest book Six Sacred Rules for Families  and their experience at the World Meeting of Families, where Sue spoke on healing damaged relationships.



Tuesday: Barb Begley Gilman  a 2014 NCEA Distinguished Catholic school teacher, co-organizer of #CatholicEdChat Saturday 8am CT ,Co-founder of EdCampArchOmaha joins us to discuss dynamic Catholic education in action. Utilizing all social media tools available in and outside the classroom, Barb seeks to reach her students where they are while providing the opportunity to grow even further. You can find many of these ideas through her blog at  Barb In

Wednesday: Jaymie Stuart Wolfe
A Catholic convert, wife, and mother of eight, strives to both answer and echo God’s universal call to holiness.A graduate of Harvard University, Jaymie also holds a Master of Arts in Ministry degree from St. John’s Seminary in Boston. and works as a full-time Editor of books for children and teens at Pauline Books & Media.Under Loaves and Fishes Ministry, she serves the mission of Christ as an author, columnist, speaker, and musician. Jaymie is also a co-founder of Live Jesus, a group embracing the spirituality of Saint Francis de Sales and focused on the Works of Mercy in daily life. She joins us today to share her latest book Adoption: Room For One More?

Thursday:Gregory and Lisa PopcakGreg is executive director of Pastoral Solutions Institute and the author of more than a dozen popular books integrating Catholic theology and counseling psychology .Popcak is a regular contributor to Catholic Digest, Family Foundations, and others. Lisa Popcak is the vice president of the Pastoral Solutions Institute, a family life coach, lactation consultant, and professional educator. Lisa is a sought-after speaker on marriage, parenting, and women’s spirituality, she has addressed audiences across North America as well as in Australia and Hong Kong. Their books include For Better . . . Forever!, Holy Sex!, and Parenting with Grace. Together they have also hosted two television series for EWTN: For Better . . . FOREVER and God Help Me!

Felice Fridays!: Margaret FeliceBoston College alumnae and faculty member of Religion and Performing Arts at BC High in Boston MA, Opera Singer and blogger joins us for a fun an engaging talk about all things Catholic.