Wednesday, January 31, 2018


I enjoyed OPEN TO THE SPIRIT: God in Us, God with Us, God Transforming Us by Scot McKnight. To have a book just on the Holy Spirit is a gift. McKnight does a good job collecting Scripture passages to shed light on Who this third Person of the Holy Trinity is, why we should open ourselves to Him, and how. He includes many anecdotes about the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in his own and other people's lives and McKnight encourages the reader to remain open to the Holy Spirit.

Some criticisms. I'm surprised that the beautiful prayers and litanies to the Holy Ghost were not included. I view this as a serious omission given that we have a treasury of these. In fact, the early Church prayed its first novena for the Holy Ghost from Jesus' Ascension until Pentecost. And it is common to sing Veni Creator Spiritus for all important occasions like confirmation, ordination, dedication of a church. We sang it for New Year's Day! And one of the most beautiful litanies composed is that to the Holy Ghost:  Why a book about the Holy Spirit wouldn't have this is a mystery.

For a better treatment of how the Holy Spirit comes to be and the Holy Trinity, I recommend Frank Sheed's book: Theology for Beginners

Thanks to Blogging for Books for an ARC of Open to the Spirit.

REDISCOVER JESUS by Matthew Kelly was a Christmas gift from Stella Maris Catholic Church. And what a wonderful gift to remember who Jesus is. I have yet to feel like the honeymoon is over, but I remember what it was like to lose my faith at the age of 12, how much I missed my Best Friend, yet refused to speak to Him because I didn't understand suffering. I read this book with delight and it's classic Matthew Kelly with his direct approach and takeaways at the end of each short chapter. And there are exactly 40 chapters, one for each day of Lent, coming up in just two weeks on Feb. 14--why yes, on St. Valentine's Day! So if you haven't picked up a copy, do so.

How God Hauled Me Kicking and Screaming into the Catholic Church by Kevin Lowry is both entertaining and insightful. You all know I'm a sucker for conversion stories because there are so many roads leading to the Truth of the Catholic faith, and this one involved "beer and billiards." Kevin was a Presbyterian preacher's kid as well and he details one of his greatest pleasures regarding them. I won't spoil it for you.

The book is in two parts; Part 1 is his conversion and Part 2 is Stumbling Blocks: how all those weird things about Catholicism turn out to make sense--Eucharist; Confession; Mystical Body of Christ; Mary; Faith vs Works; Authority; Church's Imperfections; himself. He does a great job of explaining how he turned these "stumbling blocks into stepping stones." I think Protestants who are curious about Catholicism would enjoy this very much.

Every Day with Mary is a daily devotional edited by Dr. Mary Amore. Each month focuses on one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, for ex. Jan is on peace. Each daily meditation refers to Mary and how she expressed that virtue in her life. She is our guide to Jesus. May we all be clothed in her virtues. Ave, gratia plena.

I end this post with some pictures that Max took when he went to the March for Life in WA-DC. He stayed with a friend who's at Georgetown. It's great to see so many young people who value life. They have lived with missing siblings and friends their whole lives.



Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Best Confession Ever!!!

Aren't they all? You might walk in with some trepidation*, yet you walk out of the confessional light and carefree, pure and holy (if only for several moments), all fear and sorrow gone, with the resolve and the grace to amend your life knowing ALL your sins are forgiven.**

And here's what happens when you run into your friends in the confessional line. You make your penance--I still remember one time when we were newbie Catholics in WA, sharing our penances with each other and my husband and kids were told to pray 3 Hail Marys, and I received a decade of the rosary!

"Whatever did you do?" they asked.
"I'm not telling!" I said. "God has already forgotten :)"
But I digress.

After you make your penance, you stand outside because it's so lovely and everything is clean and bright like your soul and one by one, friends gather to catch up. You've not had a chance to do this for a while and it is getting a bit chilly (here in Charleston, anything below 70 is cold) so you decide to continue at the local pub over drinks.

Best confession ever!!!

This is the Chapel in Bishop England where I hear daily Mass.
I'm sitting in my favorite corner with
St. Joseph standing guard above me.
I'd had a migraine since Friday and meds weren't doing a whole lot and it didn't seem like a good idea to go to a noisy place but when I asked Michael (isn't he a good husband to drive me to confession because I was unable?) he was in. We already had dinner waiting for us at home and Dagny was taking a nap after work. We had such a good time and half-way through a mango-pina-colada I realized my head was doing much, much better.

Wow! Maybe the confession has something to do with it. After all, it is a minor exorcism. I've not kept a record of confessions but maybe I'll add that to my calendar with a big C. I keep a Mass journal and boy is it ever helpful to remember how God has been speaking to me. But maybe it was the rum :)

As much as confessing my sins is uncomfortable, it humbles me and prepares me to receive Holy Communion. There is nothing greater than this. It's Jesus Himself. No matter what happens, even if it's something terrible in the news about a pedophile or corrupt priest, I could never abandon this ship. To whom shall I go? I am so happy when I can go to Mass. It's the best 20 minutes of my day. I return home blessed with Jesus, my Lord, my God, my all upon my lips.

Jesus, my Lord, my God, my all!
How can I love Thee as I ought?
And how revere this wondrous gift,
So far surpassing hope or thought?

Sweet Sacrament, we Thee adore!
Oh, make us love Thee more and more.
Oh, make us love Thee more and more.

Had I but Mary's sinless heart
With which to love Thee, dearest King,
Oh, with what ever fervent praise,
Thy goodness, Jesus, would I sing!

Thy Body, Soul and Godhead, all!
O mystery of love divine!
I cannot compass all I have,
For all Thou hast and art is mine!

Sound, then, His praises higher still,
And come, ye angels, to our aid;
For this is God, the very God
Who hath both men and angels made!

Etymology here and I am in awe of the people who've written poetry that is theologically sound! Wow!!!

I can't wait until St. Clare of Assisi is finally built here on Daniel Island and we'll have a perpetual Adoration chapel. Scroll down the website for a proposed design--isn't it gorgeous?!!!

*Kneel, cross yourself, and begin, "Bless me Father for I have sinned ..." continue for instructions if you've been away from this sacrament for a long time. As Father Z says "Go to Confession!" Amazing grace for sure.

**Words of Absolution (what the priest says to you): God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of your son, you have reconciled the world to yourself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins. Through the ministry of the church, may God grant you pardon and peace. And I absolve you of your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

This is Stella Maris, where we hear Mass on Sundays and Holy Days.
The marble floor had to be removed to repair the sub-floor, damaged during Irma. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the New Civil Rights

I have a dream speech is just one of handful of speeches, including the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, that define us as Americans. I look forward to reading The Dream: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech that Inspired a Nation by Drew Hansen.

Today the most dangerous place for a Black child is in his or her mother's womb. They have more risk of dying from abortion than to live to adulthood. How many will we sacrifice on the altar of greed? 

Parce Domine!

This week many hundreds of thousands of people will congregate at States' capitals to March for Life as well as to WA-DC. It'll be cold and snowy, without many creature comforts. It really is a sacrifice for those travelling to march. But they do this because they believe all life is sacred from the moment of conception until natural death. Just as we think it's unimaginable what the Black people have endured, so I want future generations to think it unimaginable to kill a child in the womb. The right to life is the most basic right. Let us pray to grant all babies in the womb personhood. I am praying for you all who are making the journey this week to March for Life. God bless you and keep you safe!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Family Stories

I love handmade cards and calligraphy and can always expect something special from my artistic friends for my birthday. I had such a lovely day catching up with an old friend at lunch and celebrating the new Starbucks opening on Daniel Island. That's my girl! I can just sit back and admire her. 

My youngest aunt has given me a project for this year--collecting family stories. Many of you know I've been writing about my mom so including my siblings and cousins feels spot on. Here's one from my sister. I'm about 2 yrs old and my sister is 5. She'd parade me around the neighborhood as "my beautiful sister!!!" The neighbors thought it was strange but our mom let my sister take full charge of me. I was a "living doll." She even convinced our older brother to play house where they were the parents and I, the baby. Apparently I went along with everything. The funny thing is that I remember chafing against all the extra mothering and supervision. I always wanted to run off. Of course, I was older by the time I remember, around age four. But I also remember that when I had to go to school, I didn't want to leave my sister. I think I screamed that entire first year when she left me with the nuns. Memory is a strange bird. It'll be very interesting to see how different people remember the same events and each other. And it'll be fun to be the official secret keeper :)

I pulled a picture of our kids at a similar age. Fun to see the resemblance. I wish grownups were as cute as kids.

My sister also sent me this with a caption: the young writer. I'm about 10 and I had not yet discovered A. J. Cronin (physician turned writer) and the dream of writing. My heroes were Mother Teresa, Fr. Damien of Molokai and Dr. Albert Schweitzer. I was interested in medicine and wanted to be a nun-doctor. But even back then, my sister and I played "What If" where we made up stories about the people around us. We kept this up in our teens. And I'm still at it :)

I love these snowy portraits of my kids. Family: my greatest gift.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

A White Christmas in Charleston

We love snow days!!! Christmas holidays have been extended for an extra week! Kids will go back to school and work on Jan. 8th. Locals tell me the last time it snowed so much (we got about 5 inches) was 20 years ago.

I know this winter storm is going up the East Coast so please stay warm and safe. And have fun playing in the snow!!!




Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year

The Magi won't reach this scene until Epiphany
(look closely at the picture of the Altar :)
I love that we celebrate Christmas for a full week and that the 8th day falls on Jan. 1st and when we celebrate the circumcision of our Lord, His Holy Name--Jesus--which means God saves, and Mary. As our priest pointed out, the solemnity of Mary has been in the opening prayer all along. I also love that there's a plenary indulgence for reciting Veni Creator Spiritus. So please sing along!

So thankful for all the blessings in 2017. Praise God!

I pray you all have a happy and healthful, blessed and beautiful New Year. My word and goal this year are one and the same: WRITE (with all the gifts of the Holy Spirit).