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Always and everywhere…Angels

One of my favorite places in Rome is Ponte Sant’Angelo — the Bridge of Angels — where gorgeous winged creatures line the path as you make your way toward Castle Sant’Angelo and turn toward St. Peter’s Basilica. If you take the time to climb up Castle Sant’Angelo, which once served as an escape and fortress for popes under siege, you’ll find St. Michael the Archangel at the very top, looking out over the Eternal City with his sword at the ready should protection be necessary. This is a place where angels are everywhere — carved in marble, painted on ceilings, holding out holy water as you enter a church. Around every corner, there are visible reminders of the beings that exist unseen in our world and in our lives.

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God Alone

For those of you who, like me, may be struggling in our Church these day, I thought I would share my Give Us This Day reflection from two weeks ago.

I don’t know why it always surprises me when I open up the daily Scriptures and find a reading that speaks right to my heart, as though God placed it there just for me. And so it was that at a time when I was struggling with some of the more human elements of Church, the underbelly of faith, I came to today’s reading from Acts. “We must obey God rather than men,” the apostles remind us, even as they faced persecution for “the sake of the name.” While we may not have to deal with direct persecution in our daily lives, we often face revelations and realizations that can be as dangerous to our spiritual lives as the Sanhedrin’s threats were to the apostles’ physical lives. Despair and doubt, if allowed to fester, are destructive forces to be sure.

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Hail to the Morning

Hail to the Morning

There will be something,
anguish or elation,
that is peculiar to this day alone.
I rise from sleep and say:
Hail to the morning!
Come down to me, my beautiful unknown.*     —Jessica Powers

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Cowering in the brambles

Right about this time in the Easter season, I begin to slip into complacency. The enormity of the resurrection starts to seem “ordinary,” one more thing I take for granted. Yesterday’s readings provide the spiritual equivalent of cold water thrown in my face, which is exactly what I need. Read more

A house divided

My reflection today in the January issue of Give Us This Day:

If you’ve ever had a serious fight with your spouse or parent or child, you know the pain of a house divided. The silence or rage—depending on how you process anger—seeps into everything until even sitting at the kitchen table together sipping coffee becomes too much to bear. If you don’t heal the wound, it festers until permanent destruction and division sets in.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus cuts to the chase on that topic with what feels like the spiritual equivalent of cold water thrown in our face. We have to reconcile and unite, believe and follow the Spirit, or risk a house so divided it cannot stand. How appropriate that this message comes up on a day dedicated to prayer for the protection of unborn children, the plight of whom has divided houses—both State and private—for more than four decades.

St. Teresa of Calcutta once famously said that “the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion,” because if the most vulnerable among us are not safe, none of us are safe. If a mother does not feel secure enough to bring her baby into the world and in desperation chooses the unthinkable, none of us are secure, and the unthinkable becomes the acceptable.

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St. Mary Magdalene, pray for us

My reflection on the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene in the July issue of Give Us This Day:

St. Mary Magdalene has a feast! A new addition to the Church’s liturgical calendar as of only last year, our first reaction to the celebration might be, “What took them so long?” How is it possible that the “Apostle to the Apostles” was last in line when it came to official recognition of key witnesses to the resurrection? It’s a good question, because clearly Jesus Christ saw fit to put Mary Magdalene first. While the others were locked away in fear, she was at the tomb looking for the Lord, and she was not disappointed. Shocked? Certainly. Confused? At first. But disappointed? Never. Because she trusted in the Lord from day one and did not waver. Not once. Read more

Lighting the Advent wreath: just hit pause

My reflection on the Advent wreath, from the current issue of Give Us This Day:

Lighting the Advent wreath each night for prayers before dinner has long been my family’s tradition. The flickering candlelight growing brighter with each passing week mirrors the interplay of darkness and light we see outside our kitchen window at this time of year. There is something both haunting and comforting about a single flickering candle or two dancing against the velvety darkness. Our brief pause as we light a candle and offer a prayer opens up just enough space in our jam-packed lives to let the beauty of Advent edge its way into our souls. Read more

The only master that matters

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

Confronted with Christ

My brief reflection from Give Us This Day earlier this week:

Whenever we take our children to Manhattan, we are confronted by the reality of “these least brothers” Jesus talks about in today’s Gospel. On subways and street corners they hold out battered cups in battered hands. Our kids look to us to gauge whether we should be doing something, and if not, why not? We tell them we can’t give to every street person. And even as we explain, we fight our own guilt over ignoring those with the least who live among those with the most.

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