For the Woman Who Wasn’t There: To All the Moms who Watched Philly From Afar

When we welcomed Pope Francis into our country, I’m sure many of you moms, like me, dreamt of traveling to be with the crowds who were there to celebrate, listen, and pray with the pontiff. Of course, for most of us, it never got further than a fleeting, wishful thought. Read the rest…

Our Lady of Sorrows is the Cause of Our Joy

This week we’ll celebrate two important feasts: the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, on September 14, and the following day, September 15, we’ll remember Our Lady of Sorrows. Two days linked forever in meaning, inseparable, poignant.

September 15 also happens to be my birthday. And for a long time, as long as I was old enough to realize who I shared the day with, I felt a little – cheated. I mean, it’s a bit of a downer to liturgically “celebrate” all the bitterness in Mary’s life on a day for celebrating your own. Not that I ever thought it should be all about me, but as a child, it just didn’t seem quite fair. To enter the world as Mary grieved at the Cross. Read the rest…

A Pope Nails Parenthood: “The Kingdom of Irrationality”

“Nooooooo!” I couldn’t help but cry out as the three year old began to pour the container of salt – the giant Costco container of salt, moreover – all over the kitchen floor. He smiled gleefully despite my dismay, then scurried off as his older brother and sister chased each other through the kitchen, knocking the four-dollar cup of coffee off the counter to spread its sticky sweetness into the dunes of salt on the tile. Read the rest…

Memoirs of a Happy Failure: A Conversation with Alice von Hildebrand

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Last fall I picked up a book in our parish bookstore – and couldn’t put it down.  Alice von Hildebrand’s Memoirs of a Happy Failure captured me with it’s title.  You see, it promised a glimpse into the life of a woman I had admired since encountering her work as a theology undergrad writing a thesis on spiritual maternity. Read the rest…

Missionaries into the Hearts of Our Families

A recent Friday morning found me at the funeral Mass for a friend’s mother, and I had to take the two youngest with me. We lasted only a few minutes in the main church. My three year old, his toddler voice echoing during the quiet and solemn service, sent us into the vestible. I could hear the readings from the speakers back there, and listened while the kids sprawled at my feet. It was Matthew’s Gospel of the final judgement, where Christ tells of separating the sheep from the goats. I felt my stomach knotting up as I listened. Read the rest…

Nesting near the tabernacle: lessons from the sparrow

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This spring saw our backyard filled with new life: families of quail scurrying across the grass, baby doves peeking out from the eaves of our patio, and a special surprise: a little killdeer mother, nesting on the ground in a shallow depression in the gravel out near the children’s basketball hoop. They were the first to find her, running in breathless one day to report that we had a new tenant. Sure enough, there she sat, seeming both a bit smug and suspicious on her small speckled eggs. My heart sank a bit, worried about her safety so near the children’s play area. Her curious choice of a nest was instinctive, I had recently learned. Only weeks before, another killdeer had made a nest recently on our neighbors property – in the rocks right next to their busy driveway. My neighbor, concerned, had researched the birds and told me about these indignant little mothers. We were both amazed at their unusual habits. They always nest on the ground, sometimes taking turns on the eggs with the father. So slight an indentation do they make on the desert ground, and so like stones are the eggs, that they blend into gravel perfectly. It’s good camouflage, but still…this one had no idea what she was in for. Read the rest…

Running to the Banquet

 

It’s May!  And parishes around the world are a flurry of sacraments.  First   Holy Communions and Confirmations testify to God’s continuing presence among us and leave us filled with that lasting Easter joy and bursting hearts.  It’s that time of the liturgical year when God dishes out graces and gifts with generous hands and more places are set at the banquet table.  Our own son Daniel received his first Holy Communion and the sacrament of Confirmation this spring, and although this was our fourth child to be so blessed, I still felt awed at witnessing the young life that’s been entrusted to us be saturated with and transformed by God’s own life. Read the rest…

For Mother’s Day : A Martyrdom of Love

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In January this year I sat in my kitchen early one morning, bleary-eyed after a fractured night’s sleep. (And I’m using the term “sleep” quite loosely.)  The former night’s guilty parties, ages 2 and 5, lounged – in varied stages of consciousness themselves – on the couch, while I clutched a mug of coffee and scrolled through the day’s news stories.  Suddenly I was wide awake, as I came upon the headlines of several Catholic sites: “Pope says Motherhood is Martyrdom.”  Whoa. Read the rest…

St. Joseph’s Hands by Claire Dwyer

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Richard Zeidler, my “Uncle Dick”

Nine years ago I went for a walk with Alice von Hildebrand.  The lovely Catholic philosopher and theologian had come into Phoenix to give a talk on God’s love, and desiring to enjoy the weather and the views around Camelback mountain, she found me a willing companion.  Our conversation turned to my uncle, who had recently died after a terribly painful battle with stomach cancer.  I had described his life to her, and then she stopped me, looked into my eyes, and said in her beautiful accent, “You’ve got to write that.”  Firmly.  And I knew I should, not just because when Alice von Hildebrand tells you to do something, you probably should, but also because deep down I knew it was true.  So…it took me nine years, but here goes, and intentionally in time for the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, May  1st. Read the rest…