Monday, December 31, 2012

Counting Blessings

I am counting my blessings by singing Te Deum on this last day of the year. Here is a faithful translation (Holy God we praise Thy name). For life, family, friends, church, school, country, work, comforts, sufferings, joys, and my Lord, who continually draws me nearer to Him. Let me share these blessings with you (thanks to my son who has taken most of these pictures) ... one for each month of this wonderful year.


May Christmas joy remain with you now and always. Happy New Year!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Holy Innocents and the Problem of Evil

Today, the Feast of the Holy Innocents, is especially poignant given the murder of the children in Sandy Hook, CT just two weeks ago. I lost my faith at the age of twelve when I learned about the Jewish Holocaust. I still struggle with the problem of evil, why God allows it. I know it has to do with free will, but my little mind cannot wrap around why it has to be. The serpent had to be ...

Perhaps many of you have a difficult time with this as well. Here is today's reflection in Laudamus Te from Mother St. Paul. It doesn't explain the problem of evil, but it can give us a model to live in the face of evil.

"Only one child escaped the cruel sword of Herod, and that one was Mary's Son. He was safe in the arms of His Mother, who was fleeing with Him into Egypt, with an anguish of heart so great that it constituted the Second Dolor. But no design of Herod, however powerful and clever, could touch the life before His hour was come. The Child knew it, and His Mother knew it -- yet they fled from those who sought His life; for in all things Mary's Son must be made like unto His brethren. He could have protected Himself, had He so wished, without giving so much trouble and anxiety to His parents. He heard Rachel bewailing her children; He heard the cry of each one of those little Innocents, who was giving his life for Him -- yet He did not raise a finger to prevent all the misery, because He had come to do His Father's Will, and He left all in His Hands, and also because He is our model, and He was showing us how to act. He wants us to have perfect acquiescence in God's will, a boundless confidence, a profound peace, and even joy, in the midst of the most trying and perplexing circumstances. He wants us to lie quiet in God's arms, as He lay in His Mother's, content to know nothing except that God's will is being done."

It is hard to sit and do nothing in the culture of death that surrounds us. Millions of children are murdered in the womb. How can we reverse this? Prayer is my weapon.

O God, whose praise the martyred Innocents did this day proclaim, not by speaking, but by dying, do so put to death in us all the malice of sinfulness, that our lives may also proclaim Thy faith, which our tongue profess. Through Jesus Christ, Thy Son our Lord, Who with Thee lives and reigns. Amen.

Before midnight Mass we sang the Coventry Carol. We can never celebrate the birth of our Lord without also remembering those who die for Him. The Christmas Octave is quite bloody.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

Nativity Scene (Anton Raphael Mengs 1728-79)

At every Mass, we end with the very poetic opening of John's Gospel ...

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Oh, happy day!

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Mail

Holy Family (Forever)Madonna of the Candelabra by Raphael (Forever)
I was hoping to use these beautiful stamps issued by the USPS to send out Christmas cards and letters, but in the midst of house-guests, activities, and revisions, I never got around to it. Perhaps next year :) Notice I am being purposely ambiguous -- I may send out cards either in Jan or Dec :)

I leave you with this beautiful prayer we sang last year for the 4th Sunday of Advent -- Rorate Coeli.
Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just
Let the earth be opened and send forth a Saviour.  
May you have an abundance of blessings this Christmas and a New Year filled with peace and joy.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Prayers for a Priest

On the eve of the one-week anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre, let me share this letter from the sister of the priest who serves the community at Newtown, CT and a link to the blog from which I swiped both the letter and the picture:

My friends,

All of you, I am sure, have heard so much about the tragedy in Newtown, CT. Many of you have received emails from me about my younger brother, Father Luke Suarez, who is a priest at St. Rose of Lima parish, a Catholic church just down the road from Sandy Hook Elementary. He, and his pastor, Monsignor Weiss, arrived at the school within moments of the shooting, and have been caring for the community ever since. The picture I have included was taken at the school.

Father Luke has an impossible task before him. His diocese is without a bishop right now. . .Monsignor…is personally devastated by the losses. The parish is very large…The rectory has received serious threats, and as my brother gave the homily Sunday at the noon mass, the church had to be evacuated by SWAT teams. After experiencing identity theft and online hacking incidents, he had to erase all of his internet accounts. After a weekend of endless media requests, notifications and vigils with heartbroken families, and little sleep, he now has two wakes and two funerals every day, until the fourth Sunday of Advent. Father Luke has not even been ordained two years.

My large family has been trying to send Father Luke our love and support from afar, and one of my brothers was able to visit with him briefly a couple times. All he asks for is prayer.

I have been wracking my brain, trying to think of a way that our beautiful, loving community could tangibly reach out to Father Luke, Monsignor Weiss, and the St. Rose parish, to support them in this most awful of times. I have sent many prayer requests, and I am asking for more prayers again. But I also want to ask everyone to search their hearts, and if the Holy Spirit moves you, please consider sending one of your family’s Christmas cards to the rectory, with a few words of love and encouragement. Here is his address:

Father Luke Suarez
46 Church Hill Road
Newtown, CT 06470

My brother has said over and over again that without the prayer support he is receiving, he could not keep going. And this week is only the beginning. Everyone there is still in shock. Their peaceful home has been desecrated by violence. They will need to live with this sorrow forever.

But in our weakness is His strength. Grace abounds. Can you help me carry him through this time of trial?

On a hopeful note, Father Luke did say that no media coverage has even touched the deep, beautiful awakening of faith that has occurred there. Their tiny church, where my children have received sacraments and where Luke was ordained, has been full of people in prayer without ceasing since this tragedy happened. Love is stronger than death.

Please feel free to share the address with your family, friends, and community. An outpouring of love will sustain these good priests through their impossible ministry–impossible on their own, but possible with God.

Pax Christi

Monday, December 17, 2012


Taken this morning from the back porch with birds singing the glory of God.

We are so blessed to be reminded of God's promises.

God said...I set my rainbow in the clouds and it shall be a sign of the Covenant between me and the earth. (Genesis 9:12-13)

and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matt: 28:20)

Have a beautiful and blessed day.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Hug Your Children

It is with horror I read about another young man going on a shooting rampage in a CT elementary school, killing primarily children, and a few adults, including himself.

Lord, have mercy.

And in another story, a small town in Texas adopting needy children. They don't have much, but they share what they have, giving these children not only food and shelter, but love.

Thank you, Lord.

I know I'm going to hug my children a bit longer tonight. Tragedy can strike anywhere, anytime.

Pax Christi.

ETA: Here is a thoughtful article about the mystery of why there is suffering at all by Rev. Msgr. Pope.

Highlights Workshops

As a recipient of a generous grant from the Highlights Foundation, I am always happy to share news of their programs. I hope to go again some day ...

Three Brand New Highlights Foundation Workshops Coming Soon

Take another step toward realizing your dreams in 2013—come to a Highlights Foundation Workshop and hone your craft. No matter what your interest, we probably have a workshop for you. In addition to fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and illustration, workshops on special topics are being presented at the Barn.

Starting off the new year, Cris Peterson, children’s author and dairy farmer, along with nationally renowned Agriculture in the Classroom educator Kevin Daugherty will walk you through the process of creating accurate, fascinating nonfiction on farming and introduce you to the large network of support available for putting books about farming into the hands of children. Click here to read more about Writing Books About Agriculture, January 24–27.

Rich Wallace, Lenore Look, and Bruce Coville lead Writing for Boys, February 7–10, 2013. They will help you delve deeply into your characters’ psyches, exploring their motivations, frustrations, and personalities to truly bring them to life on the page. Weaving action and humor into your stories will be a focal point of the program, which will explore the intricacies of creating fiction for boys.

Join award-winning children’s authors Loreen Leedy and M.W. Penn at Writing that Counts: Discover the Story in Math and learn to write engaging children’s stories that highlight math concepts. The authors will discuss teaching mathematics based on common core standards and review noted picture books in the field to determine their quality. As mentors, they will teach you how to weave accurate and relevant math concepts into story through engaging lessons, hands-on practice, and one-on-one attention. This class is set for February 15–18.

For complete details on these and other 2013 workshops, visit our website:

To secure your spot or for more information, contact Jo Lloyd at 570-253-1192, or via e-mail at or request an application online.

Please feel free to share this e-mail with others who might have an interest, or to include the information in blog posts or through other social networking forums.

The Highlights Foundation is a public, not-for-profit 501©3 organization. We dedicate our efforts to connecting, nurturing, and inspiring children’s book writers and illustrators.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Grandpa let this 13-soon-to-be-14-year-old drive the Mustang! Holy Smokes! I'm not ready for this. Is any parent ever ready?

Bring on the driving tales.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Art, Cats, St. Nick, & Endless Rewriting

Because I love great art and cats, I was delighted to come across cats posing as in famous paintings.


On this Feast of Saint Nicholas, who wasn't fat or jolly, but rather cantankerous. Read more here!

Why, yes! I'm procrastinating ... watching funny cats, reading articles about St. Nick, writing a single scene three times, discarding all of them, writing it yet another way, and realizing I. Must. Move. Forward. to the even more difficult scene I must write. Today!

How do you get through the hard scenes?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Season of Hope

My thoughts are centered around my family and friends. I hope for good health and happiness, peace and joy. I hope for good writing days. I hope for the right agent, the right editor to bring our books into the world. But above all ... Adveniat regnuum tuum!

Wishing you all a very blessed Advent. Come sing!

Light a candle, eat some chocolate, read God's promises. I stuff these in our Advent house!