Worth Revisiting: A Purposeful Path

How Far Can You Go With $30, A Bus Ticket, and a Dream?

Ever wonder where God is leading you and yearn to discover or explore your own vocation in life more fully? In Fr. Casey’s A Purposeful Path (Loyola Press), we are invited to do exactly that. By opening ourselves up to being vulnerable and embracing uncertainty we are then able to give way to trust. As a Jesuit novice, Fr. Casey takes us with him on a journey of a lifetime, on his pilgrimage of discerning his identity, vocation and purpose in life.

—-→Who and whose are we?

Our fundamental identity as God’s beloved children, made in the image of our Creator, is our simplest most profound identity in life. From this place we recognize that all other gifts and identities we are to later be given, while important, are lesser than our calling and love experienced as a child of God.  In what is described as a “convergence of heaven and earth”, Fr. Casey finds the words and experience of Maya Angelou resonate deep within his soul reminding him of this infinitely divine love. This is to set the stage in his own journey of transformation and acceptance of God’s plan for him.

—-→The notion of a pilgrimage..

While often we think of a pilgrimage as a journey to a place, it implicitly involves in our humanity a relational connection, compelling a response from us and deeper meaning. The idea of making a pilgrimage acquiesces itself to our identity as a people of God on the move towards both accompaniment and relationship. Though Fr. Casey feels that his pilgrimage is to lead him to a chance meeting with Maya Angelou, he is unsure of how that is to happen or how well he is to be received. Meanwhile, all that he is given to begin the journey is $30 and a bus ticket.

—-→Discerning our path

Fr. Casey’s own pilgrimage leads him first to the Appalachian Mountains in Tennessee, where he bonds with fellow pilgrims on the trail, and then to the Wake Forrest Campus where he encounters it seems everyone else but Maya Angelou. Dejected and feeling as if he had failed, he then heads to Washington DC. Where again, he meets others with whom he shares commonalities in service and who seem to be directing him back again to an encounter with the poet. Yet, he recognizes that he has a choice does he stay where he is to be of service or let go and let God lead him the rest of the way. To do this requires an unconditional trust in God’s provision and a vulnerability to ask others for help.

—-→How do we meet and traverse the crossroads in life?

Fr. Casey suggests and indeed illustrates that an indelible part of the journey is to continually move forward. Our timing and God’s timing are seldom the same, and while we might not understand the diversions from our perceived destination, this too is important. Learning that none of us are perfect but are perfectly loved, and faithfully provided for, is the start of finding our purpose with hope and joy.

“All my conscious life and energies have been dedicated to the most noble cause: the liberation of the human mind and spirit, beginning with my own”    Maya Angelou

*Find your Inner Iggy and celebrate #31DayswithIgnatius this month at Loyola Press!

Peace,

Signature

Worth Revisiting: Gelatos & Cappuchino

Out of the blue my youngest resolutely proclaimed from the other room, “Mom when I get older I am going to Rome.”  Having grabbed my attention, I called back, “Well certainly you can, but why do you say that?”  “Well, mom if this is anything like the granite and gelato served in Rome..I’m there!” No surprise as I walked into the kitchen to spy him sitting and consuming a cup of lemon Italian ice. “Ah, Thomas but it is oh so much better in Rome!”

From the very first day of our arrival in Rome, my friends and I struck out on a pilgrimage of a different sort…to taste test as many different places and varieties of these frozen delicacies as possible during our stay.  It became almost an adventure, asking cabbies and locals for their own personal favorites and to discover new ones as well.  Our first find, within walking distance of our hotel, was to be our evening stop regardless of whether we had found another gelateria earlier that day.

Enjoying a Lemon Raspberry Granita

Using locally sourced ingredients,  natural fruits and fresh cream it is no wonder why these taste so remarkably  different from what we usually purchase under the title of gelato here in the States. Traditional flavors are there for the less daring and yet there are an abundance of unique flavor combinations. Of these distinctive flavor combinations my favorites were cinnamon-ginger, lemongrass-rosemary, and kiwi- mango. Yet, I could try a new flavor twice a day and go years before I had even come close to tasting them all!

Let loose on this eternal city, after visiting the Vatican, we found ourselves at the Ponte Sant’ Angelo or the Bridge of Angles near Castel Sant’ Angelo (Hadrian’s Tomb). Peter and Paul guard either end of the bridge , with angels depicting scenes in the Passion of Christ along the way. Artists create and sell their inspirations of the day while musicians play hoping their gift will be well received.  Down below, tents dot the Tiber River awaiting the sun’s departure and the evening festivities to begin. With little clue as to where we were really headed, my friends and I began following a lead on a favorite gelateria mentioned only as Angelo’s .  When it became apparent that we weren’t finding this on our own, we began asking locals, and tourists alike. Suddenly coming upon a piazza popular for music and performers, we recognized that even if we never found it, that it was certainly a memory in the making. Finally, approaching closing time we came upon a vigili urbani  (municipal police officer ) informing us that what we were looking for wasn’t a place at all. Rather, we had been given the name of the owner of a gelateria, the man behind the counter who he knew quite well.  So it is that in Rome, the destination is is never the full story, but the journey is far more priceless.

Now, while I contemplated a Nutella gelato several times, it remained only a thought- choosing instead to have it smothered on fresh baked bread with my morning cappuccinos dusted with cocoa. (Yes, I did use the plural!) Grazie è meraviglioso..I echoed each day as completed my morning reflection time, and garnnered strength for the day ahead. “Cafe Americana? No, no grazie..cappuchino  per favore!”

Pace,

Signature

Worth Revisiting: All Roads Lead To Rome

It has been said that “All roads lead to Rome” and this morning as I awoke, truly my very thoughts turned to Rome. To the many visual and epicurean feasts for the eyes and palate, but also to those moments which speak to our very soul.  At one time distance itself was measured in proportion to Rome, to the Milliarium Aureum, a monumental marker erected by Emperor Augustus centrally placed in the heart of the city. Dependent and connected through the well constructed Roman roads there seemed little way as a traveler to avoid passing through this jewel of the Empire. Today, we are beckoned here still, to walk in the footsteps of the saints and martyrs that have gone before us and to see where this road is continuing to lead us as a people of faith.

With this in mind, I wanted to invite you to reflectively join me on my last pilgrimage to Rome, as part of a series, and to share your insights and impressions as well from each of these incredible sites of early Christianity. While I am certainly not a noted historian or an archaeologist by trade, I am more accurately termed a theological pilgrim. Moreover, since no discussion of Rome is complete without reminiscences of the incredible food, people and surprises along the way that one encounters, be prepared for these fun diversions too! One such experience can be found in an earlier post entitled “A Spirit Led Day”.

Santa Prassede-Rome, Italy

    

That morning, as my friends and I gathered outside, we were met by the gaze of one of Rome’s poor, disabled elderly. With one foot bound and misshapen, she sat rather motionless and quiet. That is, until Fr. Steve came close!

c. Berthold Werner

Upon entering, my eyes were amazed at the splendid array of brightly colored paintings and golden mosaic images that filled this 9th century Byzantine church.  First, above the altar is an incredible apse depiction of the presentation of St. Prassede (Praxedes) and Prudentiana to Peter and Paul at the river Jordan with Jesus. Here too, you’ll see Pascal I , the then pope surrounded by a square blue halo indicating his assured sainthood upon his death, presenting a model of the church. What is so endearing about this is that we can see that despite being separated by centuries, this continuity of faith, tradition and call to sainthood in our own discipleship.

Interestingly this church is said to hold not only the remains of Sts. Prassede and Prudentiana, but also the remains of many Christian relics from the catacombs that were moved when invaders sought to take control of the area.  As you enter the funeral chapel of St. Zeno, you are prompted for a small euro donation to which the room is suddenly lit with a soft ambient light. Definitely worth the small price, beauty and holy silence envelopes the entirety of this space.

Above you, you’ll see an image of Christ supported by four angels. Above one doorway are the portraits of Pope Paschal’s mother Theodora (with square nimbus indicated she was living at the time), Prassede, Pudenziana, and Agnes.  On the outside doorway is another storytelling mosaic featuring Mary with child, the apostles Peter, Paul James, John and Andrew and Sts. Prassede, Pudenziana, and Agnes.

Also contained within this church is the pillar of black granite that Christ is believed to have been tied to and scourged upon, brought to Rome in 1223.

Amid this splendor, however, I must note the breathtaking crucifix that left me speechless and remains with me to this day.  Tucked away in a side chapel, is this almost life size and lifelike crucifix that is said to have spoken both to Sts. Bridget of Sweden and Francis of Assisi. Here at the feet of Christ I stood, knelt and prayed as countless others before me have done. Yet, in this holy moment I was no longer an onlooker, a spectator of the history that lay before me but a living testimony of the faith. Called to Christ, I too had been inextricably linked to a breadth of tradition and set upon this incredible path to witness his presence in my life today.

Have you been on a pilgrimage to Rome before? If so, what are your favorite sites? Is there significance in your own faith life to the lives of these early Christians?  If not, might I suggest a pilgrimage..even a virtual one?

Peace,

Signature

Worth Revisiting: A Purposeful Path

How Far Can You Go With $30, A Bus Ticket, and a Dream?

Ever wonder where God is leading you and yearn to discover or explore your own vocation in life more fully? In Fr. Casey’s A Purposeful Path (Loyola Press), we are invited to do exactly that. By opening ourselves up to being vulnerable and embracing uncertainty we are then able to give way to trust. As a Jesuit novice, Fr. Casey takes us with him on a journey of a lifetime, on his pilgrimage of discerning his identity, vocation and purpose in life.

—-→Who and whose are we?

Our fundamental identity as God’s beloved children, made in the image of our Creator, is our simplest most profound identity in life. From this place we recognize that all other gifts and identities we are to later be given, while important, are lesser than our calling and love experienced as a child of God.  In what is described as a “convergence of heaven and earth”, Fr. Casey finds the words and experience of Maya Angelou resonate deep within his soul reminding him of this infinitely divine love. This is to set the stage in his own journey of transformation and acceptance of God’s plan for him.

—-→The notion of a pilgrimage..

While often we think of a pilgrimage as a journey to a place, it implicitly involves in our humanity a relational connection, compelling a response from us and deeper meaning. The idea of making a pilgrimage acquiesces itself to our identity as a people of God on the move towards both accompaniment and relationship. Though Fr. Casey feels that his pilgrimage is to lead him to a chance meeting with Maya Angelou, he is unsure of how that is to happen or how well he is to be received. Meanwhile, all that he is given to begin the journey is $30 and a bus ticket.

—-→Discerning our path

Fr. Casey’s own pilgrimage leads him first to the Appalachian Mountains in Tennessee, where he bonds with fellow pilgrims on the trail, and then to the Wake Forrest Campus where he encounters it seems everyone else but Maya Angelou. Dejected and feeling as if he had failed, he then heads to Washington DC. Where again, he meets others with whom he shares commonalities in service and who seem to be directing him back again to an encounter with the poet. Yet, he recognizes that he has a choice does he stay where he is to be of service or let go and let God lead him the rest of the way. To do this requires an unconditional trust in God’s provision and a vulnerability to ask others for help.

—-→How do we meet and traverse the crossroads in life?

Fr. Casey suggests and indeed illustrates that an indelible part of the journey is to continually move forward. Our timing and God’s timing are seldom the same, and while we might not understand the diversions from our perceived destination, this too is important. Learning that none of us are perfect but are perfectly loved, and faithfully provided for, is the start of finding our purpose with hope and joy.

“All my conscious life and energies have been dedicated to the most noble cause: the liberation of the human mind and spirit, beginning with my own”    Maya Angelou

*Find your Inner Iggy and celebrate #31DayswithIgnatius this month at Loyola Press!

 Peace,

Signature

Worth Revisiting: A Spirit Led Day In Rome

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.

I could not help but think of the irony, as countless pilgrims gather in Philly to greet Pope Francis, that I once again would be missing the opportunity to see our beloved pontiff. Yet, now as then, the Holy Spirit has a purpose for where I am and intended to be. As I keep the home fires burning, I will be following the events with baited anticipation! God bless Papa Francesco and all those who are traveling to attend the World Meeting of Families this week.


A Spirit Led Day in Rome

A year ago July, as a graduate student with Loyola Chicago, I was in Rome. Given a free day to (pardon the pun) roam around, I hadn’t made any definitive plans. A couple of friends had invited me to take two early morning trains out to Castel Gandolfo on the uncertainty that Pope Francis was to appear there that day. Alas, he was there..I was not. Sunburned and needing more sleep, I decided to climb back into bed forgoing this graced opportunity.

Yet the Spirit, as it so often is known to do, would not disappoint! Heading down to breakfast, I was greeted with my cocoa toasted cappuccino and my other friends who had yet to finalize their day.  After expressing my interest to see the Divine Mercy Shrine at The Church of Santo Spirito, we all agreed that would be a good starting place! Upon arrival, we were greeted by… wedding guests and the beautiful tones of Ave Maria as the bride walked down the aisle. This would be one of four weddings we were to glimpse that day!

 

 

 

 

 

 
From there to San Teodoro and into one of the most beloved bakeries in Rome, Cristalli di Zucchero.

 

 

 

 

 
To an incredible farmer’s market

 

 

 

 

 

Expectant Mary awaiting the birth of Christ

 
then a few minutes of Adoration at the Church of San Teodoro al Palentino. Earlier at the bakery, we had spoken with a Religious Art student from Paris who had told us of a beautiful fresco of Mary in Santo Sabina’s. This was coincidentally was up Aventine Hill, where my friend MaryEllen had wanted to go. Considered one of the most spectacular views of Rome, it left us all breathless.

Aventine Hill

All Roads Lead To Rome: Abby Tre Fontane

Home to three churches, Abby Tre Fontane is a beautiful spot right outside the walls of Rome and is located on the route of the Via Laurentina. Amidst  groves of eucalyptus trees, and tucked away in a time reminiscent of the Middle Ages, is this sacred place of pilgrimage and contemplation. What’s the significance of this place among all the many others in Rome, you ask? Here, in 67 AD, is where tradition holds St. Paul to have been tortured and beheaded and where three fountains sprang forth from the bounce of his head upon the ground. The first spring brought forth hot water, the second warm and the third cold, and in place today, the pilgrim will see three shrines.

A citizen of Rome, Paul was to not be crucified or executed within the walls of Rome, but taken here to await his sentence of death.  Solace awaits the invitation to sit with St. Paul- to pray and consider his time spent here. Love, strength of conviction,and faith- when times are their darkest permeate the entirety of this space. So too is the poignant reminder that the fire lit with St. Paul  did not end there, but is within each of us as followers of Christ today. In this moment, I thought of my own husband, his kinship with St. Paul and how his small constant flame of faith was suddenly set ablaze when he heard God calling him deeper in faith.

Walking back up the path, towards the Church S. Maria Scala Coeli,  one cannot miss the statue of St Benedict calling all to listen and obedience without delay. “Pray and work. Here hastens those who want to see the heavens open; and the difficulty of the route not distracting from the holy plan. Always difficult things are achieved with great effort. The blessed life always passes through a narrow path”  This church constructed in the 12th century derives its name from a vision of a ladder that ascended to heaven from purgatory that St. Bernard of Clairvaux had in 1138 while celebrating Mass.

Last, but certainly not least is the church of  Ss.Vincenzo and Anastasio built in 625 and rebuilt by the Cistercian monks between 1140 and 1221. Enclosed with these walls of brick and columns of marble is a church of alluring austerity.I sat here for some time, at first conversing with God. Feeling a need to fill the seeming simplicity of this space, I spoke at length till my thoughts racing about in my head had come to a standstill. Then like a wave, an overwhelming sense of serene solitude enveloped me and all I longed for was to remain. I was being shaped by the silence- stripped of all my pretenses and  burdens I carried and created anew.This is the joy of contemplation, and life in this Trappist monastery.    

Yet, prayer and reflection are but part of the life of those who feel called to live within these cloistered walls. As an active working community of faith, the Cistercian  monks produce many products of unsurpassed quality and taste. Olive Oil, honey, jelly, chocolate, beer , liquors, and natural skin care products are a few of the many items sold at the Abbey of the Three Fountains. If only my pockets and suitcases were deep enough, I would have supported the monastery for a year or more. Yet, I could not help but recognize that the gift of spiritual solitude I had found there, far outweighed anything that could ever be purchased.

Reflect: Ever think about the attractiveness of monastic life? If so why? If not, can you envision the essentialness of this quiet time of retreat in your own life? Action:Take time today, to sit and allow yourself to be worn and shaped by the sound of silence.

Peace,

Signature

All Roads Lead to Rome: Santa Prassede

It has been said that “All roads lead to Rome” and this morning as I awoke, truly my very thoughts turned to Rome. To the many visual and epicurean feasts for the eyes and palate, but also to those moments which speak to our very soul.  At one time distance itself was measured in proportion to Rome, to the Milliarium Aureum, a monumental marker erected by Emperor Augustus centrally placed in the heart of the city. Dependent and connected through the well constructed Roman roads there seemed little way as a traveler to avoid passing through this jewel of the Empire. Today, we are beckoned here still, to walk in the footsteps of the saints and martyrs that have gone before us and to see where this road is continuing to lead us as a people of faith.

With this in mind, I wanted to invite you to reflectively join me on my last pilgrimage to Rome, as part of a series, and to share your insights and impressions as well from each of these incredible sites of early Christianity. While I am certainly not a noted historian or an archaeologist by trade, I am more accurately termed a theological pilgrim. Moreover, since no discussion of Rome is complete without reminiscences of the incredible food, people and surprises along the way that one encounters, be prepared for these fun diversions too! One such experience can be found in an earlier post entitled “A Spirit Led Day”.

Santa Prassede-Rome, Italy

    

That morning, as my friends and I gathered outside, we were met by the gaze of one of Rome’s poor, disabled elderly. With one foot bound and misshapen, she sat rather motionless and quiet. That is, until Fr. Steve came close!

c. Berthold Werner

Upon entering, my eyes were amazed at the splendid array of brightly colored paintings and golden mosaic images that filled this 9th century Byzantine church.  First, above the altar is an incredible apse depiction of the presentation of St. Prassede (Praxedes) and Prudentiana to Peter and Paul at the river Jordan with Jesus. Here too, you’ll see Pascal I , the then pope surrounded by a square blue halo indicating his assured sainthood upon his death, presenting a model of the church. What is so endearing about this is that we can see that despite being separated by centuries, this continuity of faith, tradition and call to sainthood in our own discipleship.

Interestingly this church is said to hold not only the remains of Sts. Prassede and Prudentiana, but also the remains of many Christian relics from the catacombs that were moved when invaders sought to take control of the area.  As you enter the funeral chapel of St. Zeno, you are prompted for a small euro donation to which the room is suddenly lit with a soft ambient light. Definitely worth the small price, beauty and holy silence envelopes the entirety of this space.

Above you, you’ll see an image of Christ supported by four angels. Above one doorway are the portraits of Pope Paschal’s mother Theodora (with square nimbus indicated she was living at the time), Prassede, Pudenziana, and Agnes.  On the outside doorway is another storytelling mosaic featuring Mary with child, the apostles Peter, Paul James, John and Andrew and Sts. Prassede, Pudenziana, and Agnes.

Also contained within this church is the pillar of black granite that Christ is believed to have been tied to and scourged upon, brought to Rome in 1223.

Amid this splendor, however, I must note the breathtaking crucifix that left me speechless and remains with me to this day.  Tucked away in a side chapel, is this almost life size and lifelike crucifix that is said to have spoken both to Sts. Bridget of Sweden and Francis of Assisi. Here at the feet of Christ I stood, knelt and prayed as countless others before me have done. Yet, in this holy moment I was no longer an onlooker, a spectator of the history that lay before me but a living testimony of the faith. Called to Christ, I too had been inextricably linked to a breadth of tradition and set upon this incredible path to witness his presence in my life today.

Have you been on a pilgrimage to Rome before? If so, what are your favorite sites? Is there significance in your own faith life to the lives of these early Christians?  If not, might I suggest a pilgrimage..even a virtual one?

Peace,

Signature

An Engaging Faith: July13th-17th

You are invited to join me this week for An Engaging Faith on Real Life Radio daily at 4pm EST.

 Enter To Win a Copy of Either Chime Traveler Book: The Secret of the Shamrock  or The Sign of the Carved Cross  (Courtesy Of Franciscan Media Publishing)  

Let’s get moving this week on at An Engaging Faith!

Tune in this week as we travel to.. Jordan with the Faithful Traveler, through Twitter with #CatholicEdChat, through time with Lisa Hendey and Marcellino D’Ambrosio to visit with the Saints!

Monday: Diana Von Glahn,  host and co-producer with her husband, David of The Faithful Traveler,  a television series on EWTN  that looks at travel and pilgrimage through the eyes of faith. Diana explores the art, architecture, history, and doctrine behind shrines and places of pilgrimage around the world. For those who can’t make the travels themselves, Diana hopes to bring these amazing sites into their homes, and enable them to virtually make pilgrimage with her.

Tuesday: Lisa M. Hendey, is the founder and editor of CatholicMom.com and the bestselling author of The Grace of Yes,The Handbook for Catholic Moms and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms. Lisa’s newest project, the Chime Travelers fiction for elementary school readers, is based upon the lives of the saints. The first two books in the series are The Secret of the Shamrock (St. Patrick) and The Sign of the Carved Cross (St. Kateri Tekakwitha).

Wednesday: Barb Gilman, Catholic School Teacher, 2014 NCEA Distinguished Teacher- Plains States, co-organizer of #CatholicEdChat Saturday 8am CT – Co-founder of EdCampArchOmaha and blogger at Barb In Nebraska.com

Thursday: Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio , world renowned speaker, author, radio and television personality on the Catholic faith joins us to discuss his book, When the Church Was Young:Voices of the Early Fathers, Servant Books (August 22, 2014).

After nine years at Loyola College and the University of Dallas, Dr. D’Ambrosio left academia to direct www.CrossroadsInitiative.com, one of the world’s leading Catholic websites, and to oversee Wellness Opportunities Group, a company promoting physical, mental, and financial freedom.  He, his wife Susan, and their five children reside near Dallas, TX.