My Father’s House: On the Sacredness of Our Places and Spaces

We pulled up to my childhood home in the middle of the night, the Wisconsin green shrouded in darkness. I immediately sensed all the summers of my childhood in the dim stillness as the screen door squeaked shut behind us. Whispering, I led five of my desert-dwelling children upstairs to the bedrooms, each step groaning with a familiar creak in the century-old bungalow.

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Heaven Begins Now: Elizabeth of the Trinity


Young Elizabeth

Next month the Catholic galaxy will become a little brighter as the Church receives a new cluster of saints. Among the holy handful will be just one woman, a French Carmelite considered by Pope Saint John Paul II to be one the most influential mystics of his life.

Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity was born as Elizabeth Catez, “Sabeth” to her friends, in 1880. She was a hot-tempered child with sometimes “furious eyes” whose father died while she was young, forcing her mother to move Sabeth and her younger sister from their home in Dijon to a smaller second-story flat. From her window, little Sabeth could look down into the garden of the Carmelite convent. Read the rest…

A Mom on Mount Carmel

Along_Camelback_Mountain_trail_September_2008I took a fascinating online class on the nature of Mystical Theology in the Church this Spring. What precious time I could carve out from my busy life as a mom six, I spent delving into the works of St. John of the Cross and meeting a new friend, a little Carmelite mystic named Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, often called a “spiritual sister” to St. Therese, the Little Flower. Late at night, huddled on the couch while the household slept, I read about the ascent of Mount Carmel, the famous allegory used by St. John of the Cross to describe the spiritual life, the journey of the soul’s toward union with God.

Our professor asked us to write our final paper on our own journey on this mystical mountain. He challenged us to reflect on how we could embrace the self-renunciation necessary to climb closer to the summit. After a few days of mulling this over mounds of laundry and miles of carpooling, here is what I came up with:

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St. Joseph’s Hands by Claire Dwyer


Richard Zeidler, my “Uncle Dick”

Ten 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…