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Death, where is thy sting?

I've felt the sting of death too much this week.

My Aunt Frances passed away. She was the youngest of my mom's three siblings, and Mom's only sister. Her very last days were a lot like my mother's: stubborn Irish women who clung to life, but also longed for Heaven.

With my aunt's death, my generation becomes the eldest. Really? That doesn't seem right. We are still kids.

It was good to see my cousins, and it was a good reminder to stay in touch.

Yesterday, we learned that a college friend passed away. It was a stunning piece of news, an untimely and apparently lonely death.

He was a brother, a fraternity brother, but really: a brother. He was quick to laugh, loved a good debate (and he and I had MANY!) and a trusted soul. How could we lose someone so vital, alive?

Today, we've been sharing memories and pictures. Remembering is good but - oh, how I wish we'd been able to be more in touch.

I pray. I pray that we all remember that time is short and life i…
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"The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want...and want...and want..."

Today marks the end of the liturgical year. Next Sunday, we enter into Advent as we prepare for Christmas. We end the year with the feast of Christ, the King of the Universe (which, I admit, sounds a bit like the name of a boxer with "the Universe, universe, universe" resonating in the arena.)

Or maybe that's just me.

Anyhow, today's psalm is easily the best-known: Psalm 23. We sang today: The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want. The psalmist not only recognizes the Lord in his life, but recognizes that the Lord is the only thing necessary for his life.

This is a deeply ironic thought, given that we just celebrated our nation's premiere holiday: shopping. (Sure, we had Thanksgiving, but mostly it's about shopping.) On Thursday, we gathered around the table and gave thanks for all of our many blessings. On Friday, we went out and bought stuff that we didn't mention at all on Thursday, but now seemed to be of the utmost importance.

I'm n…

A Good and Faithful Servant

It's funny how you can know a piece of Scripture and yet be completely oblivious to its meaning. As Catholics, if we read the daily readings every day, we will read nearly the entire Bible in three years. And the parables of Christ are memorable: they are stories, and we love stories.

As a lifelong Catholic, I've heard and read today's Gospel ... a lot. A rich guy is leaving. He calls his three trusted servants together and gives each of them money. "I trust you will care for this."

The first two double the money, returning twice the original amount to their master. The third, who has the least amount, was worried about losing the money he had, so he buried it. Kept it safe. And returned exactly the same amount back to the master upon his return.

What I never got was why the last guy was punished. He didn't lose the money, he didn't gamble it away. He kept it safe, right?

Today, we had a Paulist priest celebrate Mass with us, Fr. Costanza. He said a beau…

Let's Not Be Rash

The past few weeks, I've been battling a skin rash.

This is nothing new for me. Dealing with allergies my entire life, and having sensitive skin, hives are a pretty common occurrence.

One day when I was about 8 or 9, we'd been picking strawberries at my Aunt Doris'. I was rewarded with a bowl of strawberries. Sitting at my aunt's dining room table, I dug in.

"Stop."

My mom reached over and told me to stop eating. She could see that I was breaking out in hives as I ate. And that ended my ability to eat strawberries.

Strawberries: God's gift to the world of fruit. I mean: such decadence! Eat 'em plain, throw 'em in champagne, dip them in chocolate. And I'm allergic.

I joke that one of my first questions upon entering Heaven will be, "Hey, God. How come I couldn't be allergic to Brussel sprouts?" And I'm hoping that at this point, strawberries and cream will be served.

Right now, I've had a rash on my arms and legs. It'…

The Resonance of Teaching

I'm pretty sure all of us can name one teacher who changed our lives. Perhaps it was a Sunday School teacher, or your 10th grade science teacher or even your piano teacher. Whatever it was, they were the person in the right place at the right time with the right message for your life.

Unless you've been a teacher, you wouldn't know that the opposite is also true. One's students leave indelible marks on the soul of a teacher.  Perhaps this is more true of a religion teacher, as we deal with life and death issues. And while our 15 year old students often stare at us blankly when we mention Purgatory or frankly disbelieve us when we talk about mortal sin, they still listen and absorb and think and ruminate.

I haven't been in a classroom in a few years, but many of my students remain a part of my life, even in a small way. I'm sure they still roll their eyes when I tell them I pray for them, but I do. And I pray harder for some then others. I hope that whatever tr…

Where is my heart? It was just here

Almost 2 decades ago, a dear friend of mine had a baby girl. It had been a rough pregnancy and I tried to make her bedrest at least interesting, with frequent light-hearted mail.

And then: baby girl! That baby became my god-daughter. I wrote her mom a letter about motherhood that, said at one point, "now you'll know what it's like to have your heart walking around outside your body."

I've always thought that line was one of the best descriptions of motherhood (No, I didn't write it.) Your kids, even when they are all grown-up, will always always be at the core of your very being. Even now, as adults, your heart hurts when they do. You wish you could navigate young adulthood for them. You ache when you don't hear from them.

One of my babies, my oldest daughter, decided (with her hubby) to move 800 miles away. It's been so great for both of them, but especially for her: she's matured so much. They are exploring and having fun. I'm so happy for …

I'll just be crying in the bathroom...

Most women will admit to having a crying jag in the ladies' room at work at some point or another. Yesterday was mine.

No, I didn't actually cry in the bathroom, but that is only because of an iron will. And I wasn't sure - for most of the afternoon - whether I wanted to cry or needed to throw up.

I'm on my second week of a new job. Yesterday was a calamity. I felt like I was doing everything wrong, creating more work for me and/or someone else, and doing most things 2 or 3 times. Objectively, I know that nearly everyone has a day like this at a new job. You not only have to do the work you've been assigned, but you have to remember the names of co-workers, who sits where, where the copier is and how to negotiate delicate office issues. (For instance, if the next department over has treats out, can you snag one?)

Objectively, I knew I wasn't in danger of losing my job. Objectively, I know that my co-workers are more than happy to answer questions and help out.