Remembering Benedict XVI: A lesson in humility

Remembering Benedict XVI: A lesson in humility

Here’s my reflection on Pope Benedict XVI, running in the March 10 issue of OSV Newsweekly:

I have to admit, I took myself by surprise when I burst into tears upon learning that Pope Benedict XVI had resigned. I have loved and respected this pope from day one, but I guess I never realized how he had worked his way into my heart just as Blessed Pope John Paul II had done before him. Where Pope John Paul captured the enthusiasm of my youth, Pope Benedict shored up the faith of my middle age. (more…)

Daily reflections to get you through January

Daily reflections to get you through January

This month, I’m the featured contributor over at My Daily Visitor, a publication of Our Sunday Vistor. Every day you can find a brief reflection on the day’s readings or saint of the day, and a one-line prayer.

Here’s today’s reflection/prayer. At the end is a link so you can subscribe for the rest of the month and every month after. (more…)

Don’t miss the Fat Tuesday book giveaway

From my post at OSV Daily Take today. Follow the link at the end of this post to leave a comment and enter the book giveaway.

Paula Huston’s beautiful new book, Simplifying the Soul: Lenten Practices to Renew Your Spirit, is so much more than spiritual reading for one particular season. With its daily meditations, practical exercises, and gentle guidance, I know this book will be one I pull out not only during each Lenten season but any time I feel spiritually “stuck” and in need of something to jump start my prayer life.

Maybe it’s because so many of the daily activities remind me of things I’ve tried at different points along my journey — making a meal from “stored or forgotten items,” spending time in solitude and silence, turning off the cell phone or TV, learning to do the Examen. Maybe it’s because I’m intrigued by suggestions I hadn’t yet considered or tried — sleeping on the floor for a night or covering the mirrors for a day. And maybe it’s because Paula reminds readers that her book of Lenten practices does not include Sundays, days typically set aside as celebrations of the resurrection in miniature. Do you know how many times I’ve had to argue that point with people who insist the Sundays “count”?

Here’s a brief excerpt from Paula’s introduction:

“The beauty of the Lenten season is that it encourages the development of a humble heart. In Lent, we are invited to look deeply inside, identify what is impeding our ability to follow Christ along the way of humility, and begin applying antidotes…Simplifying the Soul is meant to aid you in this process…My prayer for you as you begin this retreat is that, first of all, you enter into it with the right spirit. This book is not meant to be a spiritual version of the Girl Scout honor badge program, and if you look upon it as a handbook for self-improvement, you’ll more likely become frustrated and disappointed. Instead, think of it as an invitation to self-knowledge and as a small step in liberation from destructive complicatedness — that is, from sin.”

And here’s a snippet from Ash Wednesday, with its focus on clearing out a junk drawer or closet, so you can get started while you wait for your book to arrive:

A junk drawer is the classic repository for what we are meant to leave behind. Not only does it symbolize our histories, but it also reveals the speed at which we lived through them: how did a sunflower seed wind up among the rubber bands and old corks, and this seventy-five-year-old baptismal gown stuffed into a brown paper sack?

When we clear out a junk drawer for Lent, we are in some small way dealing with the detritus of breathless hurry and our corresponding inability to focus. We are beginning to tear through the sticky web that binds us to our past: not only to the fine and happy times, the poignant seasons of growth and change, but also to the tears we once shed, the idols we once worshiped, the myths we once believed, and the lies we once told ourselves.

If you’re hungry for more, enter our book giveaway and you just might win a copy of Simplifying the Soul (Ave Maria Press, $14.95). Leave a comment at OSV Daily Take by clicking HERE. Share what you’ll be doing as a spiritual practice this Lent, and we’ll pick one winner at random. (My kids will be picking a name from a hat. Very scientific.)

Happy Fat Tuesday, and blessings as you begin the journey through Lent.

Angels among us, messengers from heaven

In honor of the Feast of the Archangels (Sept. 29) and the Feast of the Guardian Angels (Oct. 2), I thought I’d post my recent OSV story on angels and their role in our spiritual lives. I’ll start you off here and send you there.

The photos at left and below were taken last year when I was crossing Ponte Sant’Angelo in Rome on my way to St. Peter’s Basilica.

By Mary DeTurris Poust

Human beings over the centuries and across cultures have long been fascinated with and captivated by angels. We seek their protection and pray for their guidance. We both fear and crave their presence. We put them on necklaces, coffee mugs, mouse pads and more. When it comes to angels, our expressions of love run from the ridiculous to the sublime, inspiring everything from the wildly inappropriate Victoria’s Secret ad campaign to the strikingly beautiful film Wings of Desire.

Although Catholics often begin their prayer connection to angels in childhood, with the sing-song words of the Angel of God prayer — “Ever this night, be at my side to light and guard, to rule and guide” – angels are by no means child’s play. They are complex spiritual beings, often misunderstood by us humans who try to give them features and attributes that are more akin to existence on earth than heaven. Chubby little baby-like cherubs sporting wings and harps cannot begin to do justice to the reality of angels in our midst.

So what exactly are we dealing with here, and what role do angels play in our personal prayer lives?….Continue reading HERE.

Catholic bloggers in NY’s Capital Region

The latest issue of The Evangelist, the Diocese of Albany’s weekly newspaper, included a story on local Catholic bloggers, and I was on the list.

Here’s a snippet from the story by Angela Cave:

Among the thousands of Catholic bloggers populating the Internet with thoughts on spirituality, politics and the Church are several well-known residents of the Albany Diocese.

Mary DeTurris Poust is the author of several books on spirituality and a column that appears in two newspapers. A parishioner of St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Delmar, she writes a personal blog called “Not Strictly Spiritual” ( in addition to contributing regularly to Our Sunday Visitor newspaper’s daily blog(

As many as 2,000 people read her posts at Our Sunday Visitor; about 100 follow Not Strictly Spiritual.

“Sometimes, it’s the oddest thing that will catch somebody’s attention,” said Mrs. DeTurris Poust, offering the examples of posts on a religion-themed episode of the “Glee” TV show and on an artsy statue of Blessed Pope John Paul II.

The blogger gets the biggest response when she exposes her vulnerability and helps readers on their own spiritual journeys.

Common topics include hindrances to her spiritual life, reflections on retreats and Bible readings, thoughts about liturgical seasons and an annual post about her miscarriage.

“People want that connection to other people when they’re hurting or going through a rough time,” she said. “I think that’s when my blog is at its best.”

On the other hand, “if you want a pesto recipe, I’ll give you that,” she added.

Some of her posts chronicle the lives of her husband and three children in words and photos, while others dissect the spiritual aspects of ordinary tasks.

One of Mrs. DeTurris Poust’s favorite blog entries explored her quest to survive the chore of doing laundry with a smile on her face, in a show of love for her family.

Yet another sought to find serenity in a bowl of oatmeal: “I want to become more aware of the connection between the fast-paced, non-thinking eating that I do and the fast-paced, non-thinking living that I do — and the praying that I don’t do,” she wrote.

But when she’s not in a “good spiritual place,” she’s honest about it with her readers.

“I certainly don’t want people to get the impression that I’ve got it all figured out,” she told The Evangelist. “I think we forget that, a lot of times — that we’re all out there, we’re all trying to walk this path and we can feel like we’re alone.”

You can read the full story, which includes links to other Capital Region bloggers, by clicking HERE. If you’re curious about some of the Not Strictly Spiritual posts Angela mentions in her story, here are a few links (just click on the title):

Learning to Let Go, Starting with the Laundry

Finding Serenity in a Bowl of Oatmeal

Remembering the Power of One Small Life

Where Am I? Connecting the Spiritual Dots

Angela also mentioned my blogging at OSV Daily Take, which you can find by clicking HERE.

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