The Letters: A Movie Review of Mother Teresa for the Divorced

Maybe I should have expected groans when I asked my boys if they wanted to watch the preview of the movie, The Letters, with me. I hadn't actually told them what movie it was just that it was a movie I'd picked out. Their groans might be related to the fact that I'd recently made them watch part of a PureFlix movie, Captivated, about the affect of screen time on children and they expected more of the same, but finally they stopped complaining long enough to ask what movie I'd chosen.

I hadn't expected the dramatic change that came about when I told them.
My 12 year old's face lit up, "The Letters?"
He sat up straight from where he'd been slouched, sulking on the couch.
"Wow, you got The Letters to preview Mom? That's cool!"
To read the rest of how The Letters relates to the divorced, the abandoned, and the lonely, please join me at 
God Bless...

Pope Francis' favorite painting, Chagall's White Crucifixion, returns to The Art Institute of Chicago

Pope Francis' favorite painting, Chagall's White Crucifixion, returns to The Art Institute of Chicago.  I learned all this through social media so I planned my visit to the museum.

You can read the article and view the photo gallery at Being Catholic ... Really.

As the Morning Rising: God's Love

As the Morning Rising: God's Love: Love A crown of thorns rendered torn The flesh of the sinless one Born to save us. The hand of Abraham was stayed No b...

Ourselves the Garments

"Let us spread before His feet, not garments of soulless olive branches, which delight the eye for a few hours and then wither, but ourselves clothed in His grace, or rather, clothed completely in Him.  We who have been baptized into Christ must ourselves be the garments that we spread before Him...."  (continue...)

Eyewitness to the Crucifixion: Holy Week Reflection

Since this coming week is Holy Week, I thought I would offer for your reflection this excerpt from my book The Fisherman’s Wife:
The next morning Esther and I help Lydia clear breakfast. Tobiah and Seth are out for a walk. Then seated on pillows with the two women and Leah, I tell them about last night’s strange meal. I’m interrupted when the two men enter the house out of breath. Tobiah says frantically with a stricken face, “They’re going to crucify Jesus. Pilate condemned him to death. They have him carrying a cross out to Golgotha right now.”
My heart stops. “Why are they doing this?” Click to continue

The Messiah We Need

Tiberius was Rome's absentee emperor around the time the Han Dynasty was getting back to business-as-usual, after Wang Mang's brief takeover. I mentioned him before: Wang Mang, I mean. (December 27, 2015)

Meanwhile, Phaedrus was retelling Aesop's Fables in Latin, and Pontius Pīlātus was prefect of the Roman Province of Judea.

That part of the world had been under Roman control since the Battle of Philippi, Armenia wasn't a Roman province yet, but it wasn't the force it had been during Tigranes' reign, and that's another topic.

Tigranes, Tiberius, and Wang Mang, were well-known folks in their day;1 at least in their homelands. Two millennia later, not so much.

Pontius Pīlātus is another matter. He's mentioned each year around this time, when something like 2,000,000,000 folks pay at least fleeting attention to a Nazarene's progress from top-of-the-polls celebrity to executed corpse.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.



10 Minute Daily Retreat Palm Sunday Reflection

…and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not come into the time of trial." Luke 22:46

I once watched a National Geographic documentary on Jerusalem's annual Palm Sunday procession.  How thrilled was I to recognize myself, along with a group of fellow travellers, right in the thick of the crowd!
A number of years ago, I travelled to the Holy Land, with a group of young friends, to celebrate the events of Easter. The Palm Sunday procession heralded the beginning of an amazing pilgrimage experience. 
On GoodFridaywe joined hundreds of Christians processing along the path believed to be that of Jesus’ final steps, the Via_Dolorosa
read on:

‘When we journey without the Cross . . . we are not disciples of the Lord.’ Sunday Reflections, Palm Sunday 2016, Year C

Christ's Entry into Jerusalem, Melozzo da Forli, 1477-82 Basilica della Santa Casa, Loreto, Italy
Gospel for the ProcessionLuke 19:28-40(NRSV, Catholic Ed., Can) 
After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.As he approached Bethphage and Bethanyat the hill called the Mount of Olives,he sent two of his disciples, saying to them,“Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’” Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them.As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They replied, “The Lord needs it.” They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it.As he went along, people spread their cloakson the road. When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives,

Sometimes All You Can do Is....

And that’s a good thing! Laughter heals. Laughter brings people together. Laughter distracts. Lately, I’ve been laughing a lot! I think about the Holy Family often. What was their life like in those ancient days? Did they laugh a lot? Did they have fun? I’m assuming that, contrary to the paintings, statues and drawings that depict the members of Holy Family as solemn and serious, there must have been great joy! Joseph and Mary were raising the Son of God who came to be the Messiah.
Read more at Prayerfully Yours.

God Used Blogging To Bring My Writing to Life Again

Four years ago, when I tried to write on a computer, I could not translate the same creative energy that I experienced telling a story verbally to the keyboard. My intuitive, imaginative side stayed buried and my logical intellect wrote boring drivel. God used blogging to heal my frozen gift of writing.  I snapped to attention when I stumbled on blogs.  Suddenly, I was thinking up a username,  a title for a blog,  looking at templates and design and layout. All these activities loosened up my creativity while I sat typing. It was like an invisible barrier slowly melted, allowing my imagination to bubble up in a stream of written words that felt just as exhilarating as my oral tradition. I was  excited to start sharing written stories with other people, people who would read them,  respond, comment and give me feedback on what I had written.  Within weeks, I was no longer an island but part of a community of other writers who had the very same insecurities and problems as I did. continue…

Fossils, DNA, and Being Human

Some scientists say they've learned that a 300,000,000-year-old whatsit was a very early version of lampreys.

That, Neanderthal DNA, and a newly-analyzed Tyrannosaur, gave me something to talk about today....

...I'll do my usual explanation of why God's design choices don't offend me: but first, a recap of why I don't miss the 'good old days.'...

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

As the Morning Rising: Passiontide

As the Morning Rising: Passiontide: Passiontide A father and child were Seated in the pew in front of me The child's head turned and tilted As she, panorama-st...

As the Morning Rising: Cavehill Belfast

As the Morning Rising: Cavehill Belfast: Cavehill, Belfast Sometimes we realise just how fortunate we are When through...

Why is the FISH a symbol of Christianity?


Blessed are the Stressed - Book Review

Blessed are the Stressed: Secrets to a Happy Heart from a Crabby Mystic, by Mary Lea Hill, FSP Feeling stressed, but not necessarily blessed? Do you want to feel better about the direction of your life? Well, Blessed are the Stressed: Secrets to a Happy Heart from a Crabby Mystic, by Sister Mary Lea Hill, FSP focuses on reducing your stress by embracing the tenets of the Beatitudes. Specifically, this book addresses the importance the Beatitudes play in your life, especially in a culture that tells us that happiness can be found in a slick new car, or a fancy new house. According to Sister Mary Lea, true happiness, or blessedness, is found in... Read more...

As the Morning Rising: St Patrick on Slemish Mountain

As the Morning Rising: St Patrick on Slemish Mountain: I've always been fascinated when thinking of St Patrick and of how his life took on a whole new turn after he dev...

Coloring the Van Gogh Bedroom

After attending the exhibit of Van Gogh's Bedrooms at The Art Institute of Chicago, I've become a bit obsessed with the museum itself and Van Gogh's works.  As a life-long Chicago resident, the exhibit prompted me to become a member of the museum and I'm so glad I did!

You can read the article and view the photo gallery at Being Catholic ... Really.

How to Explain Mercy (and Good Friday) to Children

Working with children (and raising a batch with my husband), I've picked up a few critical pieces of information about how children learn. For example, children require simple explanations in terms they can understand instinctively. Children also have little patience for information or activities that seem irrelevant to their concerns; they learn new concepts best when they can relate to the topic personally.

Pope Francis knows this well, which is why he hopes families, in this Year of Mercy, will provide children with an experience of mercy.

In his book-length interview, The Name of God Is Mercy, Pope Francis helps us all understand mercy by defining it in theological terms and then also giving us concrete, practical examples of what mercy feels like in daily life. Parents, grandparents, and teachers who want to share the Year of Mercy with children in their lives will find a wealth of wisdom in Pope Francis.

Join me at Praying with Gracefor the rest of the story. . . .


Many of us might be quite familiar with the scripture that urges us to onward to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us”. (Heb 12:1) I myself have always loved that verse, and yet there are remarkably times when endurance and perseverance are indeed in short supply. Weak, hungry, in need of healing we stop running- begging for respite and often questioning what lies ahead. Even when our exhaustion comes from a full day of joyful or productive work, we may very well find ourselves depleted and in need of renewal to meet tomorrow with the same vigor. So then, does God leave us with a goal that is unrealistic, or fail to see our very human shortcomings? Not at all,  for God promises to refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” (Jer. 31:25)  The utter gratitude in this knowing that the God of all is there to meet us in our every moment I find unsurpassable. Read More...

The Vacuum Cleaner Syndrome

I like to feel in control of my life. It is hard for me to trust a God I cannot see and usually cannot feel or hear. However, when I refuse to give up control and submit to the Father, I shut out the power of the Holy Spirit in my day-to-day life. It is not easy to let go of control because I am naturally wired to act just like a vacuum cleaner, sucking up all my children’s pain. Likewise, my children are compassionate vacuum cleaners, who attract other people’s negative emotions. They are all aware  they learned this dysfunctional behaviour not only from observing my husband and me in action but also because they have inherited this trait from both of us. continue reading

Remembering My Mother

My Mother: Virginia Duffy

Today would have been my mother’s 95th birthday has she still been alive. Virginia Christesen Duffy was smart as a whip, yet only received a high school education. She’s the only person I know that would dare to complete the New York Times Sunday Puzzle in ink! I fondly remember the time my parents took me to Europe for a vacation. I was 19 years old. I took French for three years in high school, and I was ready and anxious to use it! We were in a French café, one day, looking at... Read more...


Once upon a time there was a priest who got fed up with the number of parishioners who confessed that they committed adultery. Every week, in the confessional, it was the same thing - adultery.

One Sunday he said in his sermon that he was angry about this continuous sin of adultery amongst his congregation. He promised that if he heard this sin one more time he'd give up the priesthood and leave town for ever.

His congregation loved him and did not want to lose him. They agreed a secret code amongst themselves. From now on, instead of saying they committed adultery, they would say they have "fallen".

All went well for years until eventualy the bishop moved the priest to another Parish and replaced him with a new one.

The new priest did not know the code. He was most disturbed that so many parishioners kept falling so he complained to the Mayor that the sidewalks in town are un-even and that he should do something about it to stop people from falling.

The Mayor…

Within This Little Heaven


Stones, Sin, and Mercy

(From Rembrandt, via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.)
(Jesus and the Adulteress, Rembrandt.)

I figure you know what happens in John 8:1-11.

The scribes and Pharisees haul one of two folks who were committing adultery to the temple, tell Jesus what she'd done, and remind our Lord that it's a capital crime under their law....

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As the Morning Rising: Adoration and The Housebound

As the Morning Rising: Adoration and The Housebound: We can draw boundaries round love. We can box ourselves in, putting limits where God puts none. Adoration can take place before a beautiful...

10 Minute Daily Retreat: Sunday Reflection

10 Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, sir.”[b] And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.” Reading:John 8:1-11

"How I wish that there was some wonderful place Called the Land of Beginning Again, Where all our mistakes and all out heartaches And all our poor selfish grief Could be dropped like a shabby old coat at the door, And never put on again."
'In Jesus, there is the gospel of the second chance. He was always intensely interested, not only in what a person had been, but also in what a person could be. 
He did not say that what they had done did not matter; broken laws and broken hearts always matter, but He was sure that every man has a future as well as the past.' Barclay
That is Good News.

Abandonment, Divorce, & Your Role as Parent in the Parable of the Prodigal Son

A divorced single parent faces difficulties married families can't begin to imagine when raising children. Not only is the single parent responsible for food, shelter, clothing, and protection, but she must also provide a positive role model, live her faith out loud, and know when to be quiet.
And she must do this all without a partner to back her up when things go wrong. There is never a time when she can say,  "Hey honey, is it bad enough that we should bring him to the doctor?" or "I'm too tired. Ask Dad when he comes out of the bathroom."
Every decision big and small must be made alone. Doubts must be pushed through and small victories are celebrated quietly, often after the kids leave for the weekend and mom can finally reflect on the whirl of the week that just passed.
Without a doubt, the hardest moments of single parenting come from... 
What are the hardest moments of single parenting and how can the divorced, single parent relate to the Mother and Fath…

'From now on do not sin again.' Sunday Reflections, 5th Sunday of Lent, Year C

From The Gospel of John (2003) directed by Philip Saville Gospel John 8:1-11 (NRSV, Catholic Edition, Canada) 
Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone wi…

Lizard-Fish, Fungi, and Change

We're learning more about why ichthyosaurs died out. Climate change was almost certainly involved: but it wasn't our fault, and I'll get back to that.

Long before the first not-quite-an-ichthyosaur made the transition from land back to Earth's ocean, a tiny little fungus came ashore and started turning rock into soil....

...First, though, my usual spiel about why I'm not upset that Earth isn't flat, Adam and Eve aren't German, and poetry isn't science....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.