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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'…
Recent posts

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.

Straggling Towards Sainthood

Jesus told us that the path to Heaven was narrow. I'm sure He meant to add that it's also rocky, dizzying, and disturbingly lonely at times. It reminds me of all my childhood vacations spent lost because Mom couldn't read maps and Dad couldn't follow directions.

Earlier this week, I was so sad. I was talking myself out of bed in the mornings. I couldn't come up with any good reasons to get going in the morning. No job, no money, nobody to care for: couldn't I just spend one day in bed? Deep down, I know that "just one day in bed" would become a habit, and not a good one.

We all get knocked off our feet by life. A spouse dies. A child moves away. We get sick. A friend has cancer.

"That's not fair! This is not what I bargained for!"

It's easy to look at the lives of others and imagine they "have it easy." Perhaps it's a friend or family member who has loads of money, and a life punctuated by fabulous travel and a gorgeou…

Some Franciscan Thoughts on the Feast of St. Francis

St. Francis of Assisi has a lot going for him. He's hugely popular with kids, mainly because of his affinity for animals.

He certainly was a rebellious young man, which can appeal to teens. He also had big hopes and dreams for himself, something most young people can understand.

He was in great physical pain much of his adult life. Those of us in that stage of the game know what it's like to hurt so badly and ... still get out of bed and do what needs to be done.

First and foremost, Francis loved Jesus. Whether it was the simple love of an eccentric mystic or the grounded love from which grew a mighty order of men and women service God, there is Francis.

That love, Franciscan author Ilia Delio, is central to understanding Francis and ultimately Christ.

We become what we love and who we love shapes what we become. If we love things, we become a thing. If we love nothing, we become nothing. Imitation is not a literal mimicking of Christ; rather, it means becoming the image of th…

Extra helpings of humble pie

One of my favorite saint stories is about St. John Paul II. At one point (says biographer George Weigel) the pope had to call a young priest in the Vatican to his office. The pope had the task of reprimanding the young man for some error that went beyond an "oops" but was rather an error in judgment and conduct.

After the pope finished, he stood and walked from behind his desk. He knelt in front of the young priest and said, "Now, will you hear my confession?"

Humility.

Fr. James Farfaglia likes a definition from St. Teresa of AvilaShe said that humility is living in the truth ("andar en la verdad").

This makes sense. If we are pompous, we are not living in the truth. If we see others as "less than," we are not living in the truth. And if we believe ourselves to be horrid and ugly and unlovable, we are not living in the truth.

 If humility is the virtue, pride is the vice. When we act pridefully, we place ourselves in higher esteem than others…