What really matters

felicity and perpetuaApparently my efforts to blog more frequently during Lent have not been realized. *sigh* Oh well, so it goes. The inconsistent blogger returns and hopes that you are all well.

Today I received an email from Forward Today, part of Forward Movement, which is a ministry of the Episcopal church. Like many email things, I do not read it every day, but today I did read and what a gift I was given.

In the church, today is the feast when we remember Perpetua and Felicity along with their companions. They were early martyrs of the church. Author of the post, Rev. Scott Gun is an Episcopal priest and the Executive Director of Forward Movement.  He writes:

Perpetua was a catechumen, not yet baptized, when she was summoned to appear before the Roman authorities. She refused to make a sacrifice in honor of the emperor. At a public hearing, she said, “I am a Christian.” She was sentenced to death, to be martyred in an arena by wild animals. She faced death bravely, urging those around her to remain steadfast in faith.

This Lent one of the things that I have prayed and meditated upon is those who have been persecuted. Many in the United States believe that they are persecuted because of certain laws that seem to infringe upon faith. When I think of that versus the plight of the Christians in the Middle East who are seriously persecuted, I want to shake my head. Because freedom of religion is understood by many  in a particular way in this country, it kind of distorts things. Yes, people may be infringed upon, but persecuted? We kind of live in the belief that our right to practice holds a meaning, but what about when our right tramples someone else’s right? It is a problem.

Anyway as I read on and took in more of Rev. Gunn’s words, I really had to pause:

It might be tempting for us to read a story like this and think of it as little more than a fanciful legend. But it is more than that. For one thing, the blood of those martyrs, along with the blood of countless others, had the opposite effect from what the empire’s authorities wanted. From their witness, the church was made stronger. People were inspired by the way Christians faced death, clinging to their Savior and Lord Jesus Christ until the end.

If fanciful legend is what we think, then we are in trouble. If comparing our contemporary issues with being killed for our beliefs, we are in even bigger trouble. How do we discern what really matters? Rev. Gunn gets to that:

We certainly do not face persecution for our faith. But there is another danger. It’s easy to make sacrifices to false gods. Do we worship the accumulation of wealth? Do we choose to remain silent while others suffer injustice? Do we treat our churches are social clubs rather than outposts of God’s kingdom? Do we honor power and might over love and sacrifice?

Some may disagree with the persecution part, but I stand by my understanding of what this means, and my understanding follows that same way of thinking. Yes, persecution can start small and get big, but small is not the persecution part. Is your life in danger for your faith? Or are you challenged by how the world is not in sync with your beliefs? If it is the latter, then that is where we are called to find God and seek what really matters.

These words bear repeating Continue reading


Lent, like Christ, will find you


We need not search for Lenten practices, since they will find us. Sometimes a Lenten practice comes in the form of illness, the death of a loved one, a family dispute, or a financial setback. Trials and hardships come in the course of daily life, unexpected and unwanted. Our part is to deal with them as best we can, with faith, acceptance, trust, and peace. –Sarah Schwartzberg, OSB

Here we are, a little over a week into Lent. I was talking to someone who felt like she did not choose something “hard enough.” I was reminded of a time when I was on a pilgrimage; not the Camino, a long, long time ago. It was 1990 and I had not yet returned to church, but I was doing an imitation of a part-time, self-styled catholic-esque person. God  however had other plans for me… but that is another story for another day.

On this trip a group of us were hiking up a very steep and rocky path on a hot day. One woman decided that she should do so on her knees and it did not take long for her to start bleeding, but she pressed on for a bit. At the same time an older man with a cane could not continue; he was in tears feeling as if he were failing God.

Like a spectral figure, suddenly an old nun came along behind us, moving at a pretty good clip. Where did she come from? Anyway she surveyed the bloody knees and walked in front of the young woman, stopping her from going forth. Looking down she said Continue reading

Action required

27913280_10213826914360740_4929589845878718805_oIt seems that Lent, my schedule, current events, and such have not contributed to good blogging. I saw this graphic on Facebook, posted by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondolet and it struck me.

27858651_1644153752342396_207629616003888568_nThoughts and prayers are fine, but as St. James reminds us “faith without works is dead.” We must ask God to change our hearts and then respond to God’s urging. Our anger, our outrage, our sadness and tears all must be transformed – along with our hearts – into action. Doing otherwise is no longer an option.

How is it that in this so-called civilized nation, in which so many people fancy themselves as Christian cannot feed, clothe, and house its poor, especially children? Apparently it is OK to strip people with disabilities of their rights now. How is it that we can not find humane solutions for Dreamers? Not to mention other immigrants, many who were legal who are being systematically dispatched to countries they really do not know at all. Why, why, why have we seen so many shootings, so often in schools? Along with that, if now is not the acceptable time to speak about shootings, when would that time be? If we can speak of walls and travel bans at the drop of a Mexican or Muslim hat, so to speak, why can’t we speak about the shootings? Who will the wall protect when so much terror and death come from the inside?

27798214_10159957632880207_6445639966539676638_oThoughts and prayers mean nothing without action. Here is a list of actions to consider. We can’t all do them all, pick one or two and stick with them.

  1. Make a regular practice of calling your elected officials at every level.
  2. Make a regular practice of learning your reps voting history – quote from it when calling their office. Staff members who answer are typically willing to listen.
  3. Support through donations and actions, candidates who support causes that align with your own. Political campaign work can be so hard, but it is necessary and worth it.
  4. Make sure your local party is finding and putting forth new candidates for office.
  5. Take a stand – do not be afraid to share your opinion. Do take the time to understand what you believe and why.

Otherwise we are left with empty thoughts and prayers, We can do more. We will do more.

Looking at Lent, continuing the Camino

First Yellow Arrow St Jean.jpgLent begins this week. Each year many of us make an effort to begin Lent and to stick with whatever we have chosen to give up or take on.

Perhaps last year was too close to the completion of my Camino for me to see this as clearly, but this year I am profoundly aware of the magnetic pull of my Camino as I pray about entering Lent. The two journeys parallel paths are ever closer together, one journey completed, another about to begin. That Camino and Lent are related is not unusual; what is different is how I am experiencing it this year. It is more of an invitation or call, it is less of an idea. It is from deep within, thus so much harder to ignore.

All is know as I prepare to depart is this… my expectations for what will happen and what will happen are likely to be markedly different. This year, may I surrender ever more easily to where theflechas amarillas (or yellow arrow way markers of camino) lead me to, rather than my own dogged persistence about where I “think” or “feel” I should go. Head and heart are required during any spiritual sojourn, but trusting God to lead is the challenge.

How do you imagine your Lenten journey as it approaches?


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hello out there! Is anyone there? It’s been a minute, hasn’t it? Normally my absence is marked by some kind of busy-ness, imagined or otherwise, but not so this time. My last post was published when I was in California for my friends’ wedding. I was out there for a wonderful week in the warm, dry, desert among friends old and new. It was a truly joyful journey.

Also, I have returned to my pre-Camino levels of exercise and this is a really good thing. I think I was inspired to move from that Cali trip. This feels like nothing short of a miracle, and will (I hope) be very good for my health!

Lastly I have been reading more, which has been great. I am working my way (slowly) through this biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It is a super long book, which is one of the reasons I have not tackled it previously, but I am committed to taking my time. It seems a timely volume for the era in which we live. This photo and passage is not from the book, but it is Bonhoeffer, and it does speak to these times. And for now, that is all I will say about that.

BonhoefferLent starts Wednesday of course, I hope to be back blogging more!

What have you been up to these days?

What do we believe?

26239592_10155246868145878_2431172210964655127_nThe word creed comes from Old English, and has traces to other languages; all point to what someone believes. Some meanings speak to where one “places one’s heart,” others to “trust.” In Sanskrit it means “to have faithfulness.” On this day when we honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, and while we reveal ourselves to one another as a nation, I am struck more by how we are one, not by how we are divided.

Yesterday I posted an image of a Black Virgin with a Swahili phrase. Soon after, I began to think about a translation of the Nicene Creed that has long stayed upon my heart, the Masai creed. I first heard about it when I was listening to an On Being podcast about Jaroslav Pelikan many years ago.

We are all the same and yet we are all different. It is in how we bring those differences together and weave ourselves into the fabric of God’s world that carries us forth.

Can we honor Dr. King’s memory by finding beauty in the differences and joy in the similarities? Or at least by finding some respect and/or mutuality? What do we believe, that we are stronger together, moved by justice, mercy, unity, and love? Or that we are better served by hate and division, insult and cruelty?

What do we believe? With that, I leave you with the Masai Creed to pray with and ponder. What does it bring forth in you? What does this tell you about belief? And with that, what does our silence say if we do not live deeply and act in the light of our beliefs?

We believe in the one High God, who out of love created the beautiful world and everything good in it. He created man and wanted man to be happy in the world. God loves the world and every nation and tribe on the earth. We have known this High God in the darkness, and now we know him in the light. God promised in the book of his word, the Bible, that he would save the world and all nations and tribes.

We believe that God made good his promise by sending his son, Jesus Christ, a man in the flesh, a Jew by tribe, born poor in a little village, who left his home and was always on safari doing good, curing people by the power of God, teaching about God and man, showing that the meaning of religion is love. He was rejected by his people, tortured and nailed hands and feet to a cross, and died. He was buried in the grave, but the hyenas did not touch him, and on the third day, he rose from that grave. He ascended to the skies. He is the Lord.

We believe that all our sins are forgiven through him. All who have faith in him must be sorry for their sins, be baptized in the Holy Spirit of God, live the rules of love, and share the bread together in love, to announce the good news to others until Jesus comes again. We are waiting for him. He is alive. He lives. This we believe. Amen.

Bawana yu Nawe

Bro Mickey Swahili Mary

Reprinted with permission of the artist, Bro. Mickey O’Neill McGrath, OSFS

“Bawana yu Nawe” is Swahili for ” the Lord is with you.” If we believe in God, if we follow Christ, do we believe that the Lord is with us, but not with others?

Today on Sunday, January 14, 2018, Pope Francis presided at mass for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. Among other things, he said this:

I wish to reaffirm that “our shared response may be articulated by four verbs: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate.”

How are we called to do those things in our own lives? The first thing might just be to pray, especially if we feel fearful or challenged, and to ask God to open the door to our hearts. As that door opens, the first migrant enters – it is Christ himself.

That is what is meant by the words “the Lord is with you.” With YOU. With ME. With EVERYONE. That literally means every single person, every single human born unto this earth. Everyone, without exception. What we do with that migrant Christ who presses in need upon the door of our heart is up to us.

The Lord is indeed with us all, but it is up to us to let God in. What will we do? Block the way, or fling wide the gate? Will we cite laws and resources? Will we claim fear of the “other?” Or will we, as Pope Francis asks us to, “welcome, protect, promote, and integrate?” These are all verbs, requiring action. We can sit and fret, or we can get up and do what the apostles did in today’s Gospel – get up and go, follow Christ. To do that means to bring down the barriers of fear, and to spring into movement. It does not mean we will not be afraid as we go, it means that we know the Lord is leading the way, so we will follow. Remember –“Bawana yu Nawe.”