Experience God in every moment.
The desert mothers and fathers have much to teach Catholics about contemplation and prayer. In the third- to sixth-century desert landscape of Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and Arabia, a powerful movement was happening. Christian monasticism began flowering in response to a call to leave the world behind. Christians withdrew from a society in which the misuse of human relationships, power, and material possessions ran counter to their sense of the sacredness of life.
The world benefits every time your words become flesh.
When words become flesh . . .
It happened to me for the first time in first grade. The Milwaukee Catholic Herald published my writing as part of a Catholic Schools’ Week essay contest. The prompt invited students to explain how Catholic education would shape our future. I wrote:
From the archives: Perhaps God merely wraps the vocations of being human in different packages.
I’m a debutante in reverse: This month I’m entering a Trappist monastery. It’s not something Catholics hear about too often, though vocations to monastic communities have not declined nearly as drastically as they have to active communities. I suppose I’m writing now, before I get to the cloister, because once a candidate gets to the point of begging permission to go in, she hopes never to come out. And so I’d like to say good-bye to the world.
The Christian creed is cloaked in mystery.
I believe in the communion of saints.
These words take flesh in the early morning quiet of my apartment. I sink into the worn recliner and flip open my Bible. The aroma of dark roast rises like incense across the space, still as an empty sanctuary.
Thin paper crinkles between my searching fingers. Soon their stories sit before me: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James.
“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared.”
How might our spiritual lives flourish by entering into intimacy with our own bodies?
In our daily rush through life, we so often neglect the body’s wisdom. We work through fatigue and illness, pushing our bodies and feeling frustrated when they don’t keep up. Or we look at our physical selves with disdain when parts don’t measure up to some external standard (which is always designed to sell us something).
My mother’s illness made me more aware of the crosses that others carry.
My mom rose at 4:30 a.m. each day to start the laundry. With seven kids, born within a span of 10 years, her days were full with cooking, cleaning, and inquiring about our day, gently encouraging us as needed. Each night she managed to carve out a few minutes for herself. She sat in the living room to silently read the devotions in her tattered, black prayer book.
Six ways to walk humbly with God.
“Hey men, I say to you: whoever believes in me shall have everlasting life.”
Prayer is made easier with a four-legged faith companion.
"Your walks feel like a second childhood, when you ran the woods with a pack of dogs and belonged in a way you can't with humans." —Rachel Lyons, Becoming a Dog Person
My dog and I rise every morning before the sun, 4:30 a.m. to be exact. I put on my shoes quietly so as to not wake the household and buckle the collar around his neck, asking him to sit briefly as I do so. I quickly press start on the coffeemaker and we head out.
Silent prayer can be the catalyst for justice and solidarity.
A teaching evaluation once observed that I was “not afraid of silence” in the classroom. In reality, learning to be comfortable with silence was the hardest classroom management tactic for me to master. Spiritually, teaching has helped me begin to appreciate the role of silence in both prayer and moral theology. Silence as prayer—in all its relational and contextual complexity—can help us approach God and find spiritual clarity to speak in the face of unspeakable injustice.
Like a supportive gym buddy, faith and fitness are fine alone but better together.
Stretch, bend, . . . pray? From group fitness classes to mindfulness apps, health and wellness is a part of our cultural fabric more than ever. But where does faith fit in? When I was asked to write about health and wellness through a Catholic lens, my initial thoughts were that fitness is for the gym, faith is for prayer time. What does my Zumba class have to do with God?