It was nine years ago today that I launched this blog. Although it looked very different when it started out and I posted much more frequently, the overall style and substance of Not Strictly Spiritual have remained the same. I have shared my struggles, my stories, my opinions, and quite a few recipes, covering everything from the ridiculous to the sublime. Thank you to all of you who have visited this site over the years, especially those of you who come back time and again. Even if we have never met in person, you are special to me, and I am grateful. Read more
My reflection from Give Us This Day today:
Truth and trust. I’m guessing that for most of us these two words stir up powerful emotions, whether close to the surface of our souls or buried deep within. Perhaps we still feel the sting of a trust that was betrayed, a truth that was twisted, leaving us devastated and permanently scarred. Or perhaps, just as painful but in a completely different way, we were on the other side of the equation, bringing damage and destruction to a relationship or even our own inner peace because of a sin or a weakness that caused us to choose omission over honesty, betrayal over loyalty, lies over truth. Read more
My Gospel reflection from today’s Give Us This Day:
I come from a big Irish-Italian family, one where the food was always delicious and plentiful. On any given night, an entire extra family could show up for dinner at our house unannounced, and no one would go hungry. There would be chicken cutlets or pasta in abundance, and probably a batch of freshly made chocolate chip cookies. My mother wanted everyone to feel welcomed and loved. It didn’t matter whether you had an invitation, whether you were a close relative or the high school boyfriend of the resident teenager, whether you wanted a cup of tea or a three-course meal, she would smile and put out another place setting. Or five. Read more
Despite our best intentions, finding a block of time to get down to the practice of prayer can be difficult — that is if we think of prayer only as a formal task that requires us to be on our knees, preferably in a church, reciting specific words. But prayer is a conversation with God, no matter what words we use or if we use any words at all.
Listen in at the link below for a conversation — and some tips — about prayer based on my book Everyday Divine, from my April 8 appearance on the Morning Air Show on Relevant Radio. I’m the first one up, so you don’t need to fast forward to find me. Just hit play.
I am one of those people who actually enjoys confession, hard as that may be for some to believe. It’s such an uplifting feeling, to bare you soul, receive absolution, and, as my confessor said this past week, “begin all over again.” And that’s the reality of it. Every time we leave confession, we leave as a new creation, in a sense, with nothing weighing us down or holding us back. Until we sin again, which we will inevitably do because we are human, and then we start the clearing and cleansing and healing process all over again. Read more
I was featured in a story on mindfulness that’s running in the Catholic Courier of Rochester this week, so I thought I would take a few minutes to talk about this favorite spiritual topic of mine. I said a lot more than was quoted in the piece (not unusual given newspaper word counts), which also featured a Trappist monk from the Abbey of the Genesee, one of my favorite retreat places. If you’re a long-time reader of this blog, you know that my journey into mindfulness (and sometimes back out of mindfulness when I’m getting sloppy or lazy) started with my “mindful oatmeal” practice from years ago and blossomed into two books related to the practice of mindfulness in daily prayer and daily life. With each step forward on this path, I become more convinced that this is the way to inner peace and a deeper relationship with God. And when I stray from that path everything becomes slightly out of balance and more frenetic. Read more
I am typically a “Why me?” sort of person — when my computer crashes, when a recipe flops, when I come home from the store without the one thing I went there to get. So you can only imagine how I might kick that attitude up a notch when something significant is at stake. But last week, when my 18-year-old son, Noah, was facing the possibility of serious and permanent heart damage, when we had no control and no way to help him as we watched him suffer through painful attacks, the “Why me?” slowly started shifting to another place. Read more
It has been a long five days, and we thank all of you for being there with us. We believe with all our hearts that you made a difference — for Noah and for us. We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of prayers, love, and support we have received from family, friends, and complete strangers both close to home and around the world. I have been getting emails, text messages, Facebook messages, Twitter messages, and phone calls from people who want to pray and help in any way they can. So let me tell you a little bit of what happened to land my son, Noah, 18, in the Critical Care Unit at St. Peter’s Hospital earlier this week. Read more
“In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:1-5
Peace, joy, blessings, and love to you and yours on Christmas!
My reflection from today’s edition of Give Us This Day:
This past summer, when my family spent a week at the New Jersey shore, I hopped out of bed every morning to run down to the beach with my camera and capture the sun as it came up. My husband thought I was a little bit nuts to get so excited about the same sun rising every day, but I would stand there in awe over the never-changing and yet ever-changing sun. I marveled at the way it could be bold and brilliant one morning and soft and subtle the next but always, always there, even when I couldn’t see it behind the clouds. Read more